Sunday, April 25, 2010

U.S. isn't a neutral mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.

Zvi Bar'el has an interesting article in today's Ha'aretz newspaper, which challenges the previously held American assumption that the United States cannot "impose peace" when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States is not a neutral mediator that supplies the parties with its good services, a table to negotiate on, some snacks and muzak.
I actually happen to believe that Obama is fully aware of that. One of the things which has most impressed me about Obama when it comes to this conflict was the speech he gave in Cairo where, whilst talking about this, he stated:
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest.
This was the first time I have ever heard an American president articulate that American interests and Israeli interests might not be one and the same.

Bar'el applauds "the political risk he [Obama] has taken by marking Israel as a peace-refusenik", and then questions the logic of the stance Netanyahu is engaging in.
Israel is challenging the United States' strategic status. This provocation goes beyond the question of Israeli sovereignty versus American might. Idiotically, Israel is competing against itself because U.S. status is a fundamental part of Israel's strength. And when Israel is ready to demolish this foundation for the benefit of the bullies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank outposts, Israel puts its own citizens at risk.

Faced with Israeli foolishness, Washington can no longer afford to merely shrug. Too many American interests are at stake. So how will Obama deal with the Israeli naysayer? Will he renounce his demand to freeze construction? Will he present Israel with an obligatory work plan for reaching peace with the Palestinians? And to cut to the chase, will we see a rerun of the famous scene from the tenure of secretary of state James Baker, who left Israel a phone number it could call when it got serious about peace?
Obama has stated that this is about American interests and America's standing in the world.

David Petraeus has underlined that point. And, much as the usual voices demand that the US must desist from forcing Israel to do anything it doesn't want to do, the disagreement between Obama and Netanyahu, and the stakes which are at play for the US, makes that stance simply impossible. No Israeli leader can be allowed to challenge an American president when that president has stated that Israel's intransigence is endangering US troops. That's simply a no brainer.

Today, for the first time in months, we are seeing movement.
Proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians will start no later than mid-May, officials involved in efforts to renew the peace process said on Saturday.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received an official invitation to the talks from U.S. President Barack Obama. In the message to Abbas, Obama acknowledged that he was unable to extract a commitment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze construction in East Jerusalem.

But the American president expressed confidence that Israel would refrain from "significant" actions in the eastern part of the city during negotiations.
Obama's stance is beginning to bear fruit. Netanyahu has engaged in obstructionism for as long as he could, but even he is running out of excuses.

Obama is serious about this and does intend to see this through.

Senators like Chuck Schumer can fume as much as they want, but Obama has made clear - as has General Petraeus - that it is in America's interest, as much as anyone else's, that this conflict be resolved. That change of emphasis changes the game when it comes to this conflict.

Those who claim that Obama "humiliated" Netanyahu are missing the point. It is Netanyahu who is trying to humiliate Obama, by insisting that the interests of his settlers are more important than American lives. That's a battle Obama simply can't afford to let him win.

Click here for full article.


Steel Phoenix said...

Wishful thinking.

Obama better wear a cup. When Bush went up against Israel, he came out with fewer cojones.

Israel is better than him at the cost/benefit analysis. If he brings them nothing and asks for something in return, they won't play.

Kel said...

I agree that they will take him to the mat, but I think Obama is ready for the battle.

And he doesn't "bring them nothing". The US gives Israel $3 billion a year in aid and the use of it's veto at the UN. He needs to remind them of just what they get out of this before they make any claim that they are getting "nothing".