Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kerry: Obama Wasted 1 1/2 Years On Mideast Peace--But Next Idea Will Work By September (Update: Hillary Adds Her 2 cents)

...Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, said simply prodding Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate won't work because Israel feels too secure and the Palestinian leadership too weak.
Josh Gerstein: Kerry: Obama wasted 1 1/2 years on Mideast peace, may try again soon

Yeah, that must be it--Israel feels too secure.

Anyway, my interest is not in what Brzezinski had to say, but in what Kerry said at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, organized by the Brookings Institution's Saban Center. Kerry publicly said that Obama has wasted the last year and a half on seeking Middle East peace:
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Tuesday that President Barack Obama frittered away the first half of his term on an ill-advised approach to seeking peace in the Middle East, but may "step out" within weeks with a new initiative to break the gridlock.

Speaking to a gathering in Washington of leaders from the Muslim world, Kerry said the administration's effort to set the table for broader talks by resolving the impasse over Jewish settlements in the West Bank was futile. However, he suggested that Obama may move soon to get the peace process going in order to head off a possible showdown at the United Nations in September.

..."I think it sort of put the cart ahead of the horse in a way here. The key is to get to the security and borders definition and if you can get the borders definition you’ve solved the problem of the settlements. But we can’t get that discussion right now."
There was no official response by the White House to what Kerry said: neither to his criticism of Obama, nor to his intimation that something new was on the horizon, something that according to Kerry will make it possible to "get to borders and the fundamental issues fairly quickly" between now and September.

I would have thought that pushing one more time for peace talks at this point in time would be the last thing Obama would want to do:

  • It is getting closer to election time, and there is no upside for Obama to be perceived as pushing Israel into more unilateral concessions
  • With the current state of upheaval around the Middle East, pushing for a Middle East peace treaty would be harder, not easier

It remains to be seen if Obama is really considering another go at it, and what he is considering this time around.

One thing is fairly certain: anything that is thought to suddenly bring real results that fast by definition will require more unilateral concessions from Israel.

UPDATE: Last night at the forum, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added her comments about the US continued push for Middle East peace:
We put partnerships with people, not just governments, at the center of our efforts. The Administration moved quickly to respond to recent events and to affirm the principles that guide our approach...And we start from the understanding that America’s core interests and values have not changed, including our commitment to promote human rights, resolve longstanding conflicts, counter Iran’s threats, and defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies. This includes renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months. Neither Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state nor the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians can be secured without a negotiated two-state solution. And while it is a truism that only the parties themselves can make the hard choices necessary for peace, there is no substitute for continued active American leadership. And the President and I are committed to that.
Hat tip: My Right Word

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NormanF said...

Barry Rubin ridiculed it.

As he pointed out, the Israeli-Palestinian status quo can be sustained for decades.

To push for change, is to push for the worse. No one in the Obama Administration or for that matter among Israel's critics has yet shown why change is urgent.

In our era, keeping things as they are is far preferable to the risks posed by change that is likely to result in a future war.

With Clinton and Kerry talk about the blind groping for the absence of a policy that strengthens US allies and preserves US interests.

If you read their statements, that's not even a consideration. Go figure.

Daled Amos said...

To push for change, is to push for the worse. No one in the Obama Administration or for that matter among Israel's critics has yet shown why change is urgent.

"To a hammer, everything is a nail"

I think the same applies to liberals...

(that they think everything is a nail that needs working on--not that hammers think everything is a liberal...though that does open up a whole new line of thinking...)