Behind the scenes, the Obama administration is still absorbing the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to date rejected a proposed American compromise package that would have offered various security and other assurances to Israel in exchange for a 60-day renewal of a partial West Bank settlement freeze that expired last month.I suppose that this is to be expected--did anyone expect the Obama administration to take responsibility for making the settlement freeze an issue to begin with, for the first time?
The American team is said to be frustrated and upset at Netanyahu’s dismissal to date of the package, which was drafted by the NSC’s Dennis Ross in close consultation with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho.
“They’re really upset,” one Washington Middle East hand in close contact with administration officials said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, they made this incredibly good faith effort to keep Bibi at the table.” And Bibi proved as yet unwilling to budge.
“’We put our asses on the line,’” the sense of dismay among the U.S. Middle East team at Netanyahu's rejection of the U.S. package was described. “’We worked with your defense minister and gave you this amazing deal, all the cover you needed to extend the freeze. And you not only rejected it, but put forward a counterproposal [demanding Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state] pandering to the right and a stalling tactic.’”
Perhaps as importantly, the Middle East hand said, is the fact that the Obama Middle East team across the board “is internally convinced they did the most they could.”
And no one of course expected the Obama administration to recognize the Bush letter and what it says about the settlements
It is also to be expected that no mention is made of assigning any responsibility to Abbas, or the fact that
- Abbas had to be dragged yelling and screaming to the peace talks
- Abbas has failed to control the incitement of hatred against Israel in the West Bank
- Abbas's term in office ended nearly 2 years ago--and it is unclear if even has the political or popular backing to even be at the talks
- Abbas has openly stated that he cannot make any concessions
Some analysts also see a possibility that Netanyahu might be pushed to consider eventually bringing opposition Kadima leader Tzipi Livni into his governing coalition if he wants to move forward on the peace track. Quiet feelers and conversations have been described taking place.Obama's foreign policy ideas are putting the Middle East into a deeper and deeper and hole.
But why should he care?
After all, at the end of the day, it is Israel and the Middle East that will deal with the consequences of the imposition of Obama's foreign policy while he is half a world away.
Technorati Tag: Mieeast Peace Talks.