Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Obama's New Tack On Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Try The Old Tack

Emanuel Rahm stood in today for Obama, explaining that the Obama administration is still committed to Israel:

Speaking to a couple of thousand members of the UJC/Jewish Federations of North America at the Wardman Park Marriott a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the group, Emanuel argued that Obama's commitment to push the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state will advance Israel's long-term national security and values.

"Those who have questioned" whether the Obama administration has been too tough on Israeli settlements and its outreach to the Muslim world and wondered "that this implies diminished support for Israel, that is not the intent," Emanuel said. "It is not the case and it never will be. The truth is the opposite. Only through dialogue will Israel achieve the peace it seeks."

"This is a critical time for all who seek the critical goal of two states that enjoys broad support" in the U.S., Emanuel acknowledged. But he said Obama's commitment to try to advance a negotiated peace between Israel, the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors will not be deterred by recent setbacks.

...Emanuel called — as Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently have as well — for peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians to begin as soon as possible, "without preconditions."

Jennifer Rubin notes a certain degree of disconnect between Rahms speech on the one hand and both past and future US policy on the other:

Well, “those who have questioned” the administration have, in fact, questioned the policy of trying to extract unilateral concessions. That’s not “dialogue”; it’s bullying. And the “setbacks” — well, that’s what comes from insisting that one side give up what it cannot possibly give up and raising the hopes of the other that it will get this very concession.

Nevertheless, it looks like the critics were right because Emanuel tells us that he agrees with Bibi: Talks should start as soon as possible with no preconditions. Hmm. That’s not what the Obami have been preaching and practicing for months now, is it? [emphasis added]

Now all that Obama needs to do is convince Abbas--who assumed he could sit on the sidelines while Obama forced concessions for him--that the Fatah leader will have to...negotiate.

For that reason alone, Abbas may follow through on his threat to quit.

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