Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Biden And The Abbas School Of Diplomacy

Yesterday, I blogged about US approval for 2 positions taken by Israel.
Forget about a hat trick:
Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday the Palestinians deserve a ''viable'' independent state with contiguous territory, seeking to reassure them of U.S. support after Israel announced plans to expand a Jewish neighborhood in disputed east Jerusalem.

The Israeli move has overshadowed Biden's visit, meant to promote a new round of U.S.-led negotiations, and drawn Palestinian accusations that Israel is not serious about peace. Israel apologized for embarrassing Biden with the timing of its announcement, but made clear it has no intention of reversing its plan. [emphasis added]
So while the focus of the Biden visit was supposedly in order to demonstrate that the US and Israel were on the same page vis-a-vis Iran, this turned into an opportunity for Biden to stress that the US and the Palestinian Arabs are on the same page:
He [Biden] stressed the Palestinians deserve an independent state that is ''viable and contiguous,'' meaning the territory should not be broken up by Israeli settlement enclaves.

It was a clear message to Israel that the U.S. expects a broad withdrawal from the West Bank as part of a deal.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has given only conditional support for Palestinian independence and signaled that he wants to retain control of key parts of the West Bank, including Jewish settlements. The U.S., along with the Palestinians, consider settlements built on lands claimed by the Palestinians to be obstacles to peace.

The Israeli plan to build 1,600 new homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo was an embarrassing setback for Biden, who arrived Monday hoping to build on an agreement by both sides to resume indirect negotiations through the mediation of U.S. envoy George Mitchell.
I thought this paragraph from the New York Times was evasive:
The fate of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some 270,000 settlers live in the West Bank, in addition to 180,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods built in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim both areas --captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war -- as parts of a future state.
No mention of the fact that the land captured in the 1967 Mideast war--you know, the one that was precipitated by Egypt--is land that was captured from Egypt and from Jordan. We are not talking about Palestinian land, for the simple fact that there has never been a Palestinian-controlled state. For that matter, there has never been a recognized Palestinian Arab people, until Arafat came along.

Actually, if you compare the New York Times account--based on the Associated Press--with the full AP account, something was left out:
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, whose office announced the latest construction plans in east Jerusalem, apologized Wednesday for disrupting Biden's visit. But he said the problem was merely about timing, not substance.

"We had no intention, no desire, to offend or taunt an important man like the vice president during his visit," Yishai told Israel Radio. "I am very sorry for the embarrassment ... Next time we need to take timing into account."

The Israeli announcement drew an unusually harsh condemnation from Biden, who pointedly arrived 90 minutes late to his scheduled dinner with Netanyahu in an apparent snub Tuesday night.
Besides the fact that Israel apologized for the timing, the New York Times left out Biden's response: coming 90 minutes late to the home of the leader of Israel.

Considering the lack of respect that the Obama administration has become for showing towards other democratic countries such as Honduras and now Great Britain, this should not be surprising.

It is also sends a message--intended or otherwise--to Abbas, who made a point of sitting on the sidelines and refusing to come to the table, that throwing a tantrum is diplomatically acceptable, when done by the right people.

Abbas will no doubt take note.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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