Thursday, January 10, 2013

Will Obama's Second Term Search For Middle East Peace Focus On Hamas Instead of Abbas?

Aaron David Miller writes about The Three-State Solution, that while some look to a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs
But on the Palestinian side, the greatest challenge remains the pesky problem of Noah's Ark. Simply put, the Palestinian national movement has been too successful: It has two of everything -- constitutions, mini-states, security services, funding streams, and patrons.
Whether or not the "Noah's Ark problem" is a sign of success is questionable. What is not in doubt is that despite the most recent of a long line of attempts to create a unity government between Hamas and Fatah -- No sign of progress as Palestinian rivals meet in Egypt:

Separate meetings between Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and the leaders of Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Cairo on Wednesday yielded no signs of progress towards healing their five-year feud.
During Obama's first term, the focus was on only on Abbas and drawing him to the table to talk peace with Netanayahu. As we saw, Abbas assumed that Obama would do all the heavy lifting for him, force Israel into more unilateral concessions and come out looking like a hero.

Things did not quite turn out that way.

Miller thinks that during Obama's second term, the focus will be more on Hamas, led by the new secretary of state:
John Kerry -- a man who really does believe in diplomacy -- will want to do something serious on the Israeli-Palestinian issue because he believes it's important, because others will urge him to, and because that's what secretaries of state are supposed to do. But he'll have to deal with the Noah's Ark problem. Since he's not suicidal, he won't open up a dialogue with Hamas -- but dollars to donuts says he'll start talking to the Turks, the Egyptians, the Qataris (all led by Islamists with influence in Gaza) about ways to influence the organization.
Kerry of course was famous for his enthusiasm for talking with Syria's Assad. With that idea having turned into such an obvious failure, with Kerry now become best buddies with the leaders of Hamas -- albeit through Islamist intermediaries?

If Miller is right and that is the route Kerry chooses to take, obviously the Islamist extremists Kerry would befriend would be no more willing to be seen conceding to Israel than Hamas would be.

So what would Kerry offer Turkey, Egypt, Qatar -- and ultimately Hamas -- in order to recognize Israel's right to exist?

Maybe this new route Miller suggests is not so new after all.

Addendum: The more I think about it, the more I disagree with Miller's claim that the formation of the 2 governments under Hamas and Fatah with their redundancies demonstrate "Palestinian national movement has been too successful." The two "governments" formed to fill a vacuum left by unilateral concessions by Israel -- governments that were much-praised for being democratically elected, but have yet to be equally praised for being democratically re-elected.

And the fact that both depend on the regular infusion of enormous amounts of cash from outside is an indication that the terms "government" and "national movement" are being applied overly generously.

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Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Many of the recent US presidents have sought to create a legacy in their second term vis a vis the Middle East. Bush I, trying to maintain the success of Gulf War I, tried Madrid. Clinton, trying to make people forget his impeachment, tried Camp David. Bush II tried Annapolis. When Obama gets into year 3 he will surely make the same efforts.

Daled Amos said...

Considering soon-to-be Secretary of State Kerry's fondness for schmoozing with Assad, can we hope that Obama will even wait that long?