Monday, November 15, 2010

Obama Offers Not to Sell Out Israel in Exchange for False Hope

Obama is pushing ahead with his attempts to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table with Israel. It looks like Israel is going to accept his proposal for Freeze II. Israel will once again stop construction for 90 days in the West Bank in exchange for some military equipment and a promise not to sell out Israel on the world stage (for now). Plenty has already been written on how Obama's hands on diplomacy has made a bigger mess than he started with. The best articles on the Obama approach to peace talks are here and here.

In an effort to restart Peace talks, at the end of last year the Israeli government agreed to a settlement freeze for 10 months. Politicians promissed it would show the world that Israel is serious about reaching an agreement and the Palestinians would have only one shot. As expected the opposite happened. The Palestinians waited 9 months to join the negotiating table and made it clear they would walk without an extension. Instead of commending Israel for their efforts the world decided that the Palestinians must be appeased and Obama flexed is Presidential powers to make it happened.

If there is going to be another Freeze there needs to be at least some chance of success. Instead of hoping the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table it should be a condition of Israel accepting the freeze. Another condition should be that the moment the Palestinians walk away from the table the freeze is automatically over. It is the only scenario that doesn't result in a repeat of the original diplomatic failure.

Obama has mistakenly made settlements the #1 obstacle to peace. What is going to happen come January? He will have to choose between honouring his commitment to Israel or continuing to spar with Israel over settlement construction.

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