Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Barack Obama: breaking down mideast peace negotiations

I've never been optimistic that discussions between Abbas and Netanyahu would lead to any result that would bring peace to that troubled region. But the Obama administration adopted this as their goal and set about trying to bring the two together. Ironically, as Jackson Diehl details in the Washington Post how Obama's inept handling of the negotiations guaranteed failure. Obama and Hillary Clinton had a conniption over settlements being built in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Their adamant response gave Abbas an excuse for refusing to negotiate with Netanyahu but cast all the blame on Israel.
A standoff between Obama and Netanyahu over settlements paralyzed Middle East diplomacy for more than a year, while Abbas happily watched from the sidelines. Netanyahu finally announced a 10-month, partial moratorium on new settlement construction. In July, following a meeting at the White House, it looked like the U.S. and Israeli leaders had overcome their differences. Obama said nothing about settlements afterward, and instead urged Abbas to begin direct talks with Netanyahu.

Yet to the surprise of both Netanyahu and some in his own administration, Obama reintroduced the settlement issue. First in a press conference and then in his September address to the UN General Assembly, he called on the Israeli government to extend the settlement moratorium, which expired on Sept. 26. In doing so, he made it impossible for Abbas not to make the same demand.

In his television interview, Abbas said that Netanyahu had told him that he could not extend the settlement moratorium without causing his right-wing government to collapse. So both leaders are trapped. Netanyahu is a hostage to his cabinet; and Abbas is the prisoner of Obama's misguided rhetoric.
Remember how Obama was supposed to usher in a whole new era in the Middle East? And Hillary Clinton is supposed to be the smartest woman in the world and a gifted choice for leading American diplomacy? We sure haven't seen any evidence of their gifts lately and their bungling of diplomatic efforts in the Middle East demonstrates more about their weaknesses in grasping the situation than it does about the possibilities for peace in the area.


Rick Caird said...

Obama is a continuing example of someone the media claims is "bright" who, at every opportunity, shows he is not. It is hard to believe Obama has any interest in actual peace in the Middle East when he takes every opportunity to sabotage the process.

I don't believe he is bright enough to have an ulterior motive. Occam's razor tells us he simply has no idea what he is doing.

tfhr said...

There can be no peace as long as Hamas exists and the key to its end is Iran. Obama missed the best chance in the last 30 years to turn Iran around when the people were in the streets protesting the theft of their last election. This was the very best chance we've had to bring change to Iran internally and Obama simply walked away.

If Obama were a capable leader, he would have sought to galvanize world opinion in support of Iran's demonstrators. He may have even succeeded given his global popularity at that time but he didn't even try.

Palestinians are fighting amongst themselves for control of not only Gaza, but for the leadership of the Palestinian diaspora. Until that is settled it doesn't matter what, if anything, Israel builds and all of this posturing by either side or the White House and State Department are really for the benefit of domestic audiences.