Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Thought About Abbas And A Fatah-Hamas Unity Government [Updated]

At present, it appears his most likely government is a narrow alliance of hard-line and Orthodox parties opposed to significant concessions for peace.

CBS News--about Netanyahu
Speaking of the unity government...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the U.S. will continue to work closely with Israel's new government, but will also "vigorously" pursue the creation of a Palestinian state.

Clinton is making her first visit to the region as secretary of state during a transition period in Israel. She spoke Tuesday alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ahead of a meeting later in the day with prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu's criticism in the past of peace talks with the Palestinians and the possibility of Palestinian independence has raised concerns that his new government could clash with the U.S.

Clinton said earlier in the day that the U.S. would work with any Israeli government, while staying "vigorously engaged in the pursuit of a two-state solution every step of the way."

Clinton stressed the U.S.'s "unrelenting" commitment to Israel's security and said rocket fire at Israel from militants in Gaza "must stop. [emphasis added]
I don't know about the clash between the US and Netanyahu, but I am kind of curious about what is going to happen when 'vigorous' meets 'unrelenting'--probably along the lines of the same contradiction we saw in Condoleezza Rice.

If Clinton is trying to undermine Netanyahu by giving support to Livni and driving Bibi into a precarious right-wing government, she is doing a fine job--one that would make Rice proud.

Netanyahu’s view on Palestinian sovereignty is actually a traditional one that, till not long ago, was a consensus position between the two then-dominant Israeli parties, Likud and Labor. From Israel’s conquest of the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war up to the early 1990s, a Palestinian state was seen as an unrealistic, unacceptably dangerous option favored only by the far left of the Israeli spectrum.

Given Israel’s extreme vulnerability to attack from these areas, it’s easy to see why. The Likud generally favored self-government short of statehood for the Palestinians — similar to Netanyahu’s position now; the dominant Labor position was long the Allon Plan, under which Israel would have annexed about one-third of the West Bank for security purposes while ceding the rest to Jordan.

As late as Israel’s 1992 national elections, the Labor Party ran on a platform that said no to a Palestinian state. And as late as October 1995, after the Oslo process with Yasser Arafat’s PLO had begun, then-Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke in his last address to the Knesset of “a Palestinian entity … which is less than a state” as the end-goal of the process.
Hillary Clinton has been supporting the idea of a second Palestinian state since at least 1998.

There was a time that the idea of creating a Palestinian state was as a way to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israel. Now, this is being packaged more and more as a way to achieve peace in the region as a whole.

The difference?

With the former, it would be lunacy to achieve that kind of peace at the expense of Israel's security.
With the latter, Israel's security is more of an afterthought--assuming much thought is being given to Israel's security at all. 

Considering Obama's demonstration of his economic acumen, what can we expect of his decisions on international affairs?

UPDATED: So how did the meeting go between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bibi? According to Shmuel Rosner:
The meeting, many sources tell me, was friendly and cheerful in tone. Netanyahu had no reason to open old wounds, and Clinton, in her first visit, was not looking for a fight. She came with a couple of items on her agenda — more aid to Gaza (not Bibi’s problem yet, he isn’t in power) to which she added criticism of Israel’s intention to demolish some fifty Arab houses built illegally in Jerusalem (again, not yet Bibi’s problem). But she had no intention of getting into the philosophical question of “the two state solution, pro and con.” Her public statements were clear enough. His position is also clear, if more nuanced. In the meeting, as far as I could discern, the issue was not raised at all. What can be learned from this? At least, at this stage, these two experienced leaders aren’t looking for a fight — they are looking to find ways to work together. [emphasis added]
How long will that last?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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