Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Offer Clinton Made To Netanyahu

Remember that offer resulting from that marathon session between Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton? It was supposed to offer the kinds of goodies that were just enough for Bibi to get his cabinet to approve the 3-month extension of the settlement freeze, bring Abbas back to the peace talks, and get the talks on their way on a one-year trip to peace.

What happened?

Well, for starters--it turns out that something that was on the table previously was actually taken off the table by Clinton:

What is different about the current U.S. package from a draft version that was presented to the Israelis in September and October is that the latest one does not explicitly mention the U.S. agreeing to a long-term Israeli Defense Forces presence in the Jordan Valley – on the West Bank/Israel’s eastern front with Jordan, [Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David] Makovsky said.
An Israeli presence there in the Jordan Valley is a key strategic point for Israel, but one that Abbas has objected to, preferring an international force (probably modeled after the UNIFIL presence in Lebanon, based on its record of enforcing UN Resolution 1701).

Secondly, what about those 20 F-35 fighter jets? The US is now hedging on those promised jets to Israel:
Supporters of the freeze have cited the US offer to give Israel 20 F-35 joint strike fighter jets worth $3 billion as a critical reason to support the deal; the initial details of which were hammered out last Thursday between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But when quizzed about the weapons offer, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “We are committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge in the region – but beyond that, I’m not going to comment."
Not surprisingly, Netanyahu is insisting that he will not bring the proposed US offer before the cabinet until he has it in writing:
The official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the offer to his Cabinet only upon receiving written guarantees which "reflect the understandings reached during his talks with Hillary Clinton in New York."
That insistence may be in response to a further change in Clinton's offer. Arlene Kushner writes that the US may be trying to take back another promise Clinton made to Netanyahu:
A charge has been made by one Israeli official that the discontent on the Palestinian Arab side is keeping the US administration from finalizing the proposal to Israel. Tension between Israel and the US has been reported with regard to the Israeli demand that everything be in writing. According to this official, the US would like to water down the original understanding -- removing the promise that no further freeze would be expected of Israel -- in deference to Palestinian Arab demands.
One can only wonder what--if anything--will be left of Clinton's promises to Netanyahu by the time the final written copy appears before Bibi's cabinet.

At one point, the claim was that with Clinton's promises in hand, a vote to continue the moratorium would be a sure thing, albeit by a razor-thin margin.

But now, one wonders how many of those promises the US is willing to actually stand by and put into writing.

At the very least, it does not make Hillary Clinton look good.
I guess that means now she knows how Obama feels.

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NormanF said...

And I don't think it looks all that attractive to the Israeli Cabinet now.

The US won't put its promises in writing. What does that say about the credibility of America's word?

Let's hope the latest freeze extension bid goes nowhere.

artcohn said...

The Israelis should insist that all agreements with The USA be elevated to a treaty. This will give the Senate the rights of advice and approval, and oversight to see if the administration is actually carrying out the provisions. The US congress over the years has been much more favorable to Israel than the Presidents, and especially the State Dept.

Daled Amos said...

The Israelis should insist that all agreements with The USA be elevated to a treaty.

Sounds like a plan, but Obama wouldn't go for it and Israel does not have the leverage to force the issue.