Diehl BreakerTechnorati Tag: Obama and Middle East.
Jackson Diehl in a very important column In Obama’s push for Mideast peace, whose side is he on?
A reasonable person might conclude from the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria et al., that the Middle East’s deepest problems have nothing to do with Israel and that the Obama administration’s almost obsessive focus on trying to broker an Israeli-Palestinian settlement in its first two years was misplaced. But Obama isn’t one of those persons. Instead, like several American presidents before him, he seems to have concluded that the ideal segue from the latest Arab crisis is a new attempt to pressure Israel into accepting a quick march to Palestinian statehood.Diehl concludes (using Akiva Eldar as his source) that Netanyahu will declare in front of Congress that peace will be based on a return to the 1967 borders. Of course if Netanyahu does that, Abbas's passive-aggressiveness will be fully rewrded.
A “senior defense official” accompanying Defense Secretary Robert Gates on his visit to Jerusalem last week put it this way: “The Israelis have a very deep strategic interest in getting out in front of the wave of populism that is sweeping the region . . . showing progress on the peace track with the Palestinians would put them in a much better position for where the region’s likely to be six months or a year from now.”
That’s true, of course — in theory. In practice, Netanyahu’s problem is twofold. First, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has no interest in negotiating with him, and never has. The 76-year-old Abbas has repeatedly shrunk from committing himself to the painful concessions he knows would be needed for Palestinian statehood. What’s more, he has despised and distrusted the Israeli prime minister since Netanyahu’s first term in office in the 1990s. Rather than bargain with Israel, Abbas seems inclined to go along with his aides’ plan to seek a U.N. declaration of Palestinian statehood at the next General Assembly in September.
This might not be so troubling for Netanyahu, who is also not eager to make concessions for a peace deal, if not for his second problem: Obama continues to believe that Israel’s government, and not the Palestinians, is the primary obstacle to peace.
Monday, March 28, 2011
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