Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Obama envisions two years until Mideast peace deal.

There is a highly desirable change of policy from the Obama administration regarding the soon to be announced Israel/Palestine peace talks.

Unlike the Annapolis process, the United States will take a more active role in the talks and will "take a seat at the negotiating table."
Bush took a totally hands off stance regarding the Middle East which basically allowed the Israelis to do as they wished, even going as far as making secret deals telling Sharon that he didn't have to stop settlement building but could claim publicly that he was abiding by the agreement.

So, Obama's plan of actually having Mitchell or someone permanently at the table is a very good one.
The U.S. officials told the Europeans that in the coming weeks, possibly before the General Assembly opens, Washington could declare an agreement for "confidence-building measures" drafted by Israel and the Palestinians to allow talks to progress.

"We didn't reach 100 percent of what we wanted in Israel and the Arab states, but we got enough to allow for the renewal of talks," a U.S. official said.

The agreement would call for Israel to temporarily or partially freeze settlement building, though the length of the freeze was not stipulated. "In the next meeting with the Israeli negotiating team the issue will be settled conclusively," a U.S. official said. Their counterparts in Jerusalem said the freeze could last at least six to nine months. One Israeli source said the freeze could last up to a year.
Obama is to allow two years for the sides to come to a final agreement. So far, Shimon Peres admits that one of the most contentious issues are the Israeli settlements, but he is sounding confident that an agreement can be made.
"It's very hard to convince your own people to make so many concessions, to take so many risks."

"But this is the task of a leader to move ahead," he said, adding Netanyahu was aware of what needed to be done. "He knows there is no chance, no escape, no alternative to go ahead and make peace. He knows he must do it ... it's just not a simple proposition," Peres said.
We all know that what Peres is saying is quite true, but I remain very sceptical that Netanyahu will be able to get over years of resistance to peace, even with Obama pushing him.

His track record is that he has been opposed to every peace deal the Israelis have entered into, and there's no enthusiasm from him here. He's doing this because Obama is holding a gun to his head.
It is important to remember that Mr Netanyahu has always argued that the Palestinians cannot expect a nation, only some sort of supra-municipal government. His utterance of the word “state” in the June 14 policy speech he made in reply to Mr Obama does not change this in any substantive way. Beyond the Jewish religious claim to the Israel of the Bible, Eretz Israel, Netanyahu believes Israeli security requires a buffer of occupied land – including most of the West Bank – to insulate it from its Arab neighbours. The whole Arab-Israeli equation is, for him, a zero sum game.
So, Netanyahu would like to spend the next two years - despite what Peres says - talking about the threat from Iran, floating the Palestinian economy and anything else he can think of which will delay the moment he has to make the deal.

George Mitchell will have his work cut out for him. And people like Peres will also have to apply pressure if this is going to have any chance of success.

Because the most powerful player on the Israeli side has never hidden his contempt for this entire notion.

Click title for full article.

No comments: