Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Source: Obama strongly expressed his impatience to Netanyahu and Abbas.

Netanyahu's intransigence appears to be getting on Obama's nerves.

The meeting at the UN on the subject of Israel and Palestine restarting peace talks produced the nearest thing we have so far seen to anger from the new US president. If I am overstating things by calling it anger then we would have to settle for extreme impatience.

Obama is certainly letting it be known that he is displeased by the lack of progress so far achieved.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that he was dissatisfied with their recent foot-dragging on getting Israeli-Palestinian talks restarted.

A senior U.S. administration source Tuesday told Haaretz that "during the tripartite meeting Obama strongly expressed his impatience."

The source said the meeting was "businesslike" but not cordial.
Netanyahu has made it clear over the past couple of months that he is simply not interested in playing Obama's game. He won't stop his illegal settlement building and he certainly has no interest in discussing East Jerusalem as a future Palestinian capital city. In other words, Netanyahu has no interest in obeying international law, which he does not recognise when it comes to the subject of Israel and the illegal settlements.

Obama laid out his impatience for all to see.
"Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations," Obama said. "It is time to move forward... Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon."
But the truth is that George Mitchell, the man who famously got the IRA to put down their guns, has had almost no success in moving the intransigent Netanyahu an inch forward towards peace.

Obama has stated that, "all sides must move forward with a sense of urgency", but it can't have escaped his attention that the Israelis aren't moving forward at all. There's not only no sense of urgency, there's not even a hint that they have any interest in this process taking place at all.

I've said for years that I don't buy the Israeli line that they are anxious for peace but simply can't find a "partner for peace". You can't steal someone else's land whilst saying that you are anxious for peace. Those are utterly contradictory positions. Stealing someone else's land is an act of aggression. Indeed, imposing a brutal military occupation on another people's land is an act of aggression.

So Netanyahu is only being more brutally honest about the Israeli position than most other Israeli leaders, and he is only doing so because Obama is refusing to give him the cover which most US presidents give to Israeli actions which threaten peace.

The difference this time is that Obama is deadly serious about wanting an agreement between both sides; which he has, rightly, argued is in America's interests.

To that end, Obama appears to have abandoned his demand that Israel stop settlement building before peace talks can begin and he is now pushing for talks without that precondition having been met. He will also press Abbas to give up that particular Palestinian demand.

[Round One to Netanyahu.]

I don't think Netanyahu is in any doubt about how serious Obama is, I simply think he is equally serious about not giving Obama what he wants.

So, I was pleased to see Obama displaying the diplomatic equivalent of a hissing fit, it's long overdue that he made his displeasure at Israeli intransigence known. For too long US leaders have pretended that Israel's interests and those of the US are interchangeable, and they have twisted to adjust US policy to whatever the Israelis were prepared to give them. Obama is showing that he is prepared to allow the cracks on the surface to become visible to all. I have no idea whether that will have an effect on Israeli public opinion, but if Israel falls out with the United States, surely most Israelis would recognise this as a very bad development?

However, I fear Obama is going to have to be much, much tougher if he is ever to have any hope of moving Netanyahu towards a peace deal which Netanyahu not only doesn't want, but which goes against his every belief.

Sure, Obama can take settlement building off the table and talks can begin. But, the Israelis will talk, and they will keep building. Indeed, they will talk and talk and talk until they have covered every inch of Judea and Samaria (as they refer to the West Bank) with their illegal settlements.

They are determined to establish what Obama's idiotic predecessor referred to as "facts on the ground".

Sooner, rather than later, Obama is going to have to let the Israelis know that there is a terrible price for their continued intransigence. US aid to Israel could be suspended and the US could remove the guaranteed veto which it accords Israel at the UN.

Obama has to let the Israelis know that he is willing to go all the way to get what he wants. These are tough cookies. They are not going to simply roll over and play dead. Obama is going to have to get covered in mud if he is ever going to get the peace deal which he wants. For the Israelis have been playing this diplomatic game for decades.

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daveawayfromhome said...

Israel can be brought to heel quite easily, simply by the U.S. taking away the money that they give them. That wont happen though, and they know it, so why shouldnt they continue doing whatever they want to?

Kel said...

If Obama is serious about this he's going to have to do something, because Netanyahu is simply buggering him about.