"The security track is being worked out under the auspices of retired Marine Corps general John Allen, who is currently Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s special adviser for the Middle East Peace."
This, if true, is simply dangerous.
There is no way for me to confirm the veracity of this at official levels, because no one's talking. And we must remember we have no official report. but rather a description, albeit a solid description, of what was said gleaned from participants.
No one I spoke with today -- including a political analyst and an international lawyer who has experience in negotiating with the PA -- took this seriously. But I am going to take it seriously enough to respond to it. Lest anyone think it's a good idea.
We can boil it down to a few main points:
1) Israel has a policy of providing its own security -- not outsourcing it to a third party.
2) The US cannot "guarantee" anything for the PA. If the PA has not agreed to it in writing, it's not agreed to. Period. (The question of whether the PA can be trusted at all, even if it agrees, is a separate issue.)
3) The US, which has a truly troublesome track record on this, cannot be trusted with guarantees to Israel. The most notorious example, of many, is with regard to the letter sent by President Bush to Prime Minister Sharon as part of an exchange in April 2004, concerning the disengagement from Gaza. Included in Bush's letter (emphasis added):
"As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949 [these are what Obama now refers to as the '67 lines]..."
This was a Memorandum of Understanding, which -- while less than a treaty -- does carry weight and has diplomatic cachet. Sharon proceeded with the disengagement on the strength of this understanding from the US president.
Five years later, Hillary Clinton, serving as secretary of state in the Obama administration, which has espoused the policy that Israel should return to that '49 armistice line, stated:
"There is no memorialization of any informal and oral agreements. If they did occur, which of course people say they did, they did not become part of the official position of the United States government."
Not only was she saying the letter carried no weight, she was duplicitously questioning whether it even existed, when, in fact it was part of the public record.
But if you think the US policy is off the mark with regard to Israeli-Palestinian Arab negotiations, you haven't heard about the latest idiocy in Egypt.
Last week, two Senators, John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), visited Cairo at Obama's behest and carried a very strange set of demands from him:
"to release all Muslim Brotherhood leaders being held under arrest and to integrate the party into the new revolutionary government. Otherwise, they warned, the Obama administration will cut off all financial and military aid to Egypt."
Various Egyptian leaders and their spokespersons subsequently called the two "delusional" and "liars" and accused them of "manufacturing facts" and of "unwelcome interference in Egypt’s internal affairs."
The Brotherhood regime was a threat to this area and the current military governance in Egypt is the best we might hope for.
And so, my first thought, when I heard about the message delivered on his behalf, was to wonder how much more Obama would manage to damage the US relationship with Egypt.
But then, aware that Obama had also just invited the Brotherhood to meet with him, my mind segued to, Good Heavens! The president of the US is on the wrong side.
And what do you know? Commentator Barry Rubin has carried the thought even further in, "America's Real 'Dangerous Slide' is to Be on the Wrong Side in the World."
"Would you ever imagine, asks Rubin, "that the leading American newspaper would openly advocate siding with the Islamist forces in the Middle East against all of America's allies and friends, and I mean with eyes wide open and with full awareness that it sought to overthrow them? Well, the day has come.
"How is the argument for this strategy, which the Obama Administration is already pursuing, being made?" (Emphasis added)
Rubin then explains.
General (ret.) John Allen, mentioned above, is not the only high level US military person to be seen in these parts.
Last week, Gen. Mark A. Welsh, chief of staff of the US Air Force, was here as the guest of Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, chief of the Israeli Air Force. This meeting was supposed to be top secret, but Walla leaked information about it -- information very meager in details. The JPost says that according to the Walla report, it was the Americans who had requested the "confidentiality, in light of regional tensions and against the background of Israeli threats to strike Iran if it continues developing its nuclear program." Israeli "threats"?
Actually, very much off the record, I picked up a sense that this meeting was more positive than many recent meetings with US military, vis-a-vis US readiness to discuss what Israeli may be planning with regard to Iran. The Walla report termed the meeting highly productive, having "produced new channels of communications."
This week, we will have a visit from Gen. Martin Dempsey, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will the guest of Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff.
They will, quite obviously, be discussing Iran and Syria
The statement from Dempsey's office: "In Israel, the chairman expects to discuss the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, including potential threats from Iran..."
While considering the dangers of an Iran growing ever closer to nuclear capability, and of the obtuseness Obama policy, I want to recommend Caroline Glick's latest piece, "When failure carries no cost."
Glick writes at length about "self-described jihadist" US Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who has finally come to trial, and about the scandalous cover-up of what happened at Benghazi. But what I want to cite here is this (emphasis added):
"'Incitement and peace do not go together,' wrote Netanyahu. 'Instead of educating the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, the education to terror poisons them against Israel and lays the groundwork for continued violence and terror.'"
"We shall continue to market apartments all around the country, in the Negev, in the Galilee and in the center, to meet the needs of all the people of Israel. It's the right thing to do both for Zionism and for the economy."
Good man! But we knew that going in.
The Israeli government is asking the EU to reconsider its new policy -- to go into effect at the beginning of next year -- regarding restrictions against funding of projects in Jerusalem over the Green Line and Judea and Samaria. Unless there are EU adjustments, Israel will not sign deals with the EU.
Prime Minister Netanyahu underwent emergency hernia surgery at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem over night and has been discharged.
More on the prisoner release and the beginning of "peace talks," as well as on Egypt, in my next posting...