Monday, December 09, 2013
"Hocus Pocus as Diplomacy"
The question, for starters, is how gullible do Obama and his representatives think that Israel is? Or Mahmoud Abbas, for that matter. What the Americans are attempting to do is stitch together a "peace" deal using that hocus pocus.
Kerry came to town last Wednesday for a series of meetings with Israeli and PA officials in order to advance the "peace process."
On Friday, Kerry announced that he had presented both the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs with "new security ideas":
He had brought with him US Gen. (ret.) John Allen, described by Kerry as "one of the best military minds" in the US.
Gen. Allen, according to the JPost, had been designated by Obama to "assess the potential threats to Israel and the region from a future Palestinian state, and come up with possible security arrangements."
I see this as unmitigated gall: Expecting Israel to rely on a foreign military leader's assessment of Israel's security situation. This could not even be expected to be a disinterested assessment, as Allen is charged with furthering the negotiations. As a matter of fact, according to Obama, Allen has already concluded that it would be possible to arrive at a "two state solution" that protects Israel's need for security.
Did we expect Allen to say, "Mr. President, this just isn't going to work"?
According to Caroline Glick, writing on Friday (see more below), the proposal by Allen "involved, among other things, American security guarantees" and "a pledge to deploy US forces along the Jordan River."
Kerry fell all over himself when he was here trying to demonstrate how seriously the US regards Israel's need for security. In terms of the US negotiations with Iran, he said, "Israel's security was at the top of the US agenda."
Anyone who would buy this has been sleeping for the last several weeks and is probably still asleep. The US has demonstrated over and again that it cannot be trusted by its allies.
See John Keinon's analysis in the JPost, "A tale of two Kerrys" - about the turn-about in Kerry's position, which hardly inspires confidence. "Will the real John Kerry stand up."
The Allen plan apparently does involve an Israeli presence at the Jordan River, as well - at least for some interval of time. And it is for this reason that, according to Reuters, an unnamed Palestinian Arab official has said that the PA rejected the plans "because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation."
While the response from Netanyahu - a reiteration of what has been Israel's position - is that under any peace agreement, Israel "must be able to defend itself, by itself, with our own forces."
Netanyahu "has rejected outright the idea of any third party involvement." (Emphasis added.)
So, what we're seeing are irreconcilable differences in the positions between Israel and the PA - something that the US will not acknowledge upfront, but that Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman has stated clearly:
"To speak frankly, I don’t believe that it’s possible in the next year, this year, to achieve...some break-through..."
"Trust between the two sides is about zero," said Lieberman, who cautioned about creating "expectations" of a positive outcome to the talks.
Obama, addressing the prestigious Saban Forum of the Brookings Institution in Washington DC yesterday, said that "a framework" could be reached "within the next several months" but his conceptualization was a bit different:
What he has in mind, astonishingly, is a deal with the PA only, that would lead to a deal with Gaza down the road. Allow me, here, to respond to a few of the comments he made during his talk, moderated by Haim Saban.
(See http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=62537 for the full text of Obama's remarks.)
"I think we're now at a place where we can achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side-by-side in peace and security."
He's either deliberately duplicitous (a distinct possibility) or living in a dream world.
He knows about this "place" in part because, "There are young people, teenagers that I met both in Israel and the Palestinian Territories that want to get out from under this history..."
This is perhaps a small point but, in the interests of addressing distortions of truth, I could not let it pass. When Obama was here some months ago, he spoke to students at the Israel convention center (Binyanei Ha'uma) in Jerusalem. However, the American Embassy selectively invited students from certain universities. Members of Ariel University, who tend to be more nationalist, were not invited.
This is how Obama plays things. By design, he "met" a certain kind of student only.
As to the picture of "Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side." Any even remotely serious assessment of the situation would have to address the fact that Abbas is enormously weak and that Hamas is ever-eager to take over, should there be an independent Palestinian Arab state (Heaven forbid). The only thing keeping Hamas at bay in Judea and Samaria is the IDF - this you've read here repeatedly.
What is more, the PA is Hamas in a suit and tie: the goals of the two groups are the same. Both seek Israel's destruction. A careful analysis of the words of PA/PLO leaders in Arabic, as well as PA/PLO documents, makes this quite clear.
Add to this a history of the PA security forces turning their guns on Israeli soldiers.
What Obama and Kerry are pushing is pure hype, made-up nonsense.
According to Obama, "We know what the outlines of a potential agreement might look like."
This is a commonly touted myth. It is not so. You've seen above how great the differences are. Whenever this expectation is expressed, it is code for the '67 lines as the basis for negotiations and a divided Jerusalem. This is what Abbas has always demanded, and what he continues to demand to this day. Obama embraces this position and acts as if it is a foregone conclusion.
It is not: Israel will never accept this.
Moderator Saban asked Obama:
"The Palestinians are two people - one in the West Bank, led by President Abbas that is negotiating the deal; and on in Gaza, led by Hamas that wants to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth. President Abbas, as far as I know, says he won't make a deal that doesn't include Gaza, which he doesn't control. How do we get out from this?" labyrinth?"
"Well, I think this is going to happen in stages...
"...if, in fact, we can create a pathway to peace, even if initially it's restricted to the West Bank, if there is a model where young Palestinians in Gaza are looking and seeing that in the West Bank Palestinians are able to live in dignity, with self-determination, and suddenly their economy is booming and trade is taking place because they have created an environment in which Israel is confident about its security and a lot of the old barriers to commerce and educational exchange and all that has begun to break down, that's something that the young people of Gaza are going to want. And the pressure that will be placed [on Hamas??] for the residents of Gaza to experience that same future is something that is going to be I think overwhelmingly appealing."
This scenario painted by Obama is so full of holes it makes Swiss cheese appear as solid as a brick wall.
I don't think it's necessary to parse all of this. I cannot believe that even Obama believes it: that there will be a settlement and - "poof" - life for the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria will morph into something so fantastic that young Arabs in Gaza will force (force?) Hamas to join the negotiated settlement.
My metaphor of hocus pocus as diplomacy is very apt. This is nothing but a bunch of words pretending to be a policy.
Lastly, I will mention here with regard to Obama's Saban remarks, that he says it "remains to be seen whether President Abbas, then, is willing to understand that this transition period requires some restraint on the part of the Palestinians as well. They don't get everything they want on day one. (Does this mean ultimately they DO get everything they want?) And that creates some political problems for President Abbas."
Well, I suppose when you're inventing a scenario you can say whatever you want. But if Obama has even a scintilla of understanding about what's going on, he knows very well that Abbas will not compromise on his demands. And, in point of fact, cannot, as his regime and very possibly his life would be at risk if he struck an agreement that compromised on Palestinian Arab demands.
My own suspicion is that this babble by Obama about a transition that will lead in time to the inclusion of Gaza is less to address Abbas's concerns than it is to cover his own rear. How do you, after all, actively promote a negotiated settlement when there is still a terrorist Palestinian Arab entity outside of its terms? This business of transition is Obama's answer.
Please see Caroline Glick, "The politics of subversion," which addresses this entire situation:
As to where Netanyahu stands on all of this...
In his statement following his meeting last week with Kerry, his tone was more conciliatory than it has been for a while. I have my own theories as to why, which I may address when I write about Obama's statements on Iran at the Saban Conference. And he did say (which makes me shudder) that "Israel is ready for a historic peace" based on two states for two peoples.
Again, with this? I want to ask him. Again?
But he also made the statement I cited above. In it's entirety: "It is a peace that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, with our own forces against any foreseeable threats."
What is more, he called on the PA to stop finger-pointing and creating artificial crises. "Israel," he declared, is honoring "all understandings reached in the negotiations that led to the current talks.
Put simply: Stop carrying on about settlements. We have a right to do what we're doing.
This leads to an enormously important point. And here I will circle back to the comments by Foreign Minister Lieberman at the Saban Conference, regarding his doubts that anything will come of negotiations. For he said something else as well:
"Israel is not 'occupying' the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]." (Emphasis added)
Mazel tov. This is telling it like it is, and it is about time.
Credit: Oliver Fitoussi
It is not enough to claim security alone, when negotiating. That means if the US could be trusted, and the Palestinian Arabs were truly peaceful, then, hey, we could pull back to the '676 line.
But this land is ours, legally
Every time Obama makes a statement about the outlines of a agreement being clear, by which he means that Israel is expected to surrender most of Judea and Samaria, there must be forthright refutation from the Israeli government.