There are things we would hope would end: things that should end because they are foolish or dangerous. And yet they are promoted anyway.
One of those “things” is the current policy of Obama with regard to pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian state and a “two-state solution.” You’ve certainly read often enough here why this is unacceptable policy — an infringement of our legitimate rights, and neither an intelligent nor viable policy. But none of this stops Obama. His approach is bad news from beginning to end, and yet he persists. I provide here a consideration of various aspects of the overall situation — none remotely positive.
Laura Rozen, writing in “Foreign Policy” less than a week ago, took another look at Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia — where he met with the Saudi King Abdullah at his horse ranch — after his Cairo speech in early June. Rozen cites sources that say the meeting did not go well from Obama’s perspective. According to one source, the goal of the visit was moving the Saudis toward a show of a reciprocal gesture to Israel.
The author cited University of Vermont Saudi expert F. Gregory Gause, who said, “I can’t imagine Obama pressing the Israelis on settlements without expecting the Arabs to do something. He is pushing the Israelis, but he wants to show that in pushing them, it’s also bringing the Arabs closer [to peace with Israel]. He wants the Saudis to make some gesture to make it easier for the Israelis to stop settlements.
“And my reading of the Saudis, is they are not interested.”
Chas Freeman, cited by Rozen, agrees. Remember Freeman, who finally withdrew from consideration for a US intelligence post because of his connections to the Saudis? We can assume he knows them. They’re not interested in gestures, says Freeman. For them there is nothing to negotiate. They made their stand with the 2002 “peace plan.” If the Israelis and the PA work out a final deal, then there will be normalization. If not, there is nothing. “Washington has repeatedly misunderstood or been deluded about the Saudis…”
So, when Obama was in Riyadh, he got, as David Makovsky of the National Institute for Near East Policy put it, “the back of their hand.”
According to one unnamed former US official cited in this piece:
“The more time goes by, the more the Saudi meeting was a watershed event. It was the first time that President Obama as a senator, candidate, or president was not able to get almost anything or any movement using his personal power of persuasion.”
Last week, Secretary of State Clinton said in a speech that:
“Progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States — or Israel — alone. Ending the conflict requires action on all sides…. Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel…”
Makovsky says this is “a kind of recalibration of the Obama administration’s approach….When the secretary of state says she needs [Arab states’] help in word and deed and that the Arab peace initiative is just a beginning and there is much more to do, this administration is trying to resist easy characterizations that they are only leaning on one side.”
But resisting characterizations is one thing, and producing results is something else. And what the Obama administration envisions here is simply not going to happen.
Things are not exactly going swimmingly with regard to the PA itself, either.
Tony Karn, writing in Time, said the other day that:
“PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s political weakness has effectively neutered him as an effective peace interlocutor. He is engaged in an epic power struggle with Hamas, which not only controls Gaza but also is the ruling party of the democratically elected Palestinian legislature. And his influence is waning even in his own Fatah organization. It has become conventional wisdom internationally that no credible peace process is possible without the consent of Hamas.”
But let’s carry this further. Just today, Khaled Abu Toameh, reporting in the Post, said that Rafik Natsheh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, and a close associate of Abbas, has declared, in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, that “Fatah does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, nor have we ever asked others to do so.”
A clarification is in order. Fatah, the party of Arafat and of Abbas, is the major constituent element of the PLO. It was the PLO, considered the official voice of Palestinian Arabs, that negotiated Oslo with Israel. The Palestinian Authority was established as a interim administrative body by virtue of Oslo agreements.
It is commonly understood, and it is myth, that with Oslo the PLO had recognized Israel’s right to exist. Arafat had written a letter saying that offending clauses in the PLO charter that called for Israel’s elimination would be removed. But what actually happened is that a committee to do this was established and then it never met. In addition to which, Arafat signed the documents of the Oslo Accords but they were then never formally ratified by the PLO.
All of this is without taking into consideration that Fatah has its own charter that calls for Israel’s elimination. We’re dealing here with the nonsense — recently verbalized by Mohammad Dahlan — that Fatah as a constituent element of the PLO did not necessarily itself endorse what the PLO did. This was the line Dahlan used to Hamas, saying it could join a unity government whose officers would recognize Israel, but Hamas itself would not have to.
Says Natsheh now, “All these reports about recognizing Israel are false. It’s all media nonsense.”
And this is the “negotiating partner” with whom Obama expects Israel to “make peace.” Why let reality get in the way of what he imagines can be done?
Fatah expects to hold its first general assembly in twenty years on August 4, in Bethlehem. Maybe. There are some objecting to the locale, in “occupied” territory (as Israel would have control over who entered for the conference). And then there is concern that Hamas will not let members of Fatah in Gaza out in order to attend. If this happens, the conference will be cancelled.
Natsheh says that calls now to get Fatah to drop the reference to armed struggle from its charter will come to nothing: Fatah will retain its commitment to the option of pursuing “all forms” of armed struggle against Israel.
Add to all of the above an announcement that indicates the PA is continuing to identify with/honor terrorists. This is at the heart of the incitement issue.
Issa Qaraqi, recently appointed PA prisoners affairs minister, has announced that streets in PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria are going to be named for some 100 Palestinians serving terms of 20 years or more in Israeli jails. This is part of the PA’s expression of “solidarity” with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The fact that they are focusing on the “martyrs” with lengthy sentences means we are talking about people who killed Israelis or participated in terror attacks.
“This is the legitimate right of the Palestinians,” he declared. “We have the honor and duty to honor our prisoners in recognition of their sacrifices and steadfastness in Israeli prisons.”
And so, my American friends, please send this link to your elected representatives in Congress. Tell them you object to the Obama administration pushing Israel to negotiate with the PA when it behaves this way.
For your Congresspersons:
For your Senators:
And, while you’re at it, cull a few lines from this and write a brief, factual letter to the editor of your local paper, protesting as well. Make noise, please! This is just one more in a series of outrages.
If anything, the Obama policy on Iran is even worse. On Tuesday, Sec. Clinton, in Bangkok, said:
“We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those (allies) in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer.”
The implied message here, to Iran, is not to think it will dominate the area if it acquires nuclear weapons. But that also implies a willingness to accept a nuclear Iran, that would be somehow contained.
Israel — in particular Dan Meridor, Minister for Secret Services — has expressed dissatisfaction with this position. “Now, we don’t need to deal with the assumption that Iran will attain nuclear weapons but to prevent this.”
At least the US is moving to secure tight monitoring by 10 uranium-rich nations with regard to sales of uranium to Iran, which will likely have depleted its own supplies by 2010. Israel will be cooperating in this effort.
Here in Israel, we are continuing to hold tight with regard to pressures being put upon us.
The fact of the matter is that Obama, in pushing on us to stop building of a housing complex for Jews in eastern Jerusalem simply stiffened a good many backs and garnered additional support for our rights. Our claim to Jerusalem is a sensitive matter.
Worthy of note is a statement by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represents 52 groups:
“The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. As such, we believe that legal construction by residents of the city should be allowed. We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units (in eastern Jerusalem) on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities…”
This was released by Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman and Alan Solow, Chairman. While Hoenlein was reported as having challenged Obama statements during his meeting with leaders of 14 Jewish organizations, Solow, a Chicago supporter of Obama, promoted that meeting. But now Obama has gone too far even for him.
But look how the pressure escalates: Israel’s ambassador to France, Daniel Shek, was called into France’s foreign ministry offices today for a meeting with the ministry’s political director. According to a ministry spokesman, he was told:
“An immediate freeze in settlements, including in east Jerusalem, is indispensable for preserving the two-state solution and allowing the resumption of negotiations.”
The gall of these people is unmitigated, and we must, we must continue to stand strong.
Why is it “indispensable for allowing the resumption of negotiations”? Because Abbas, relying on the pro-Arab tilt of US policy, has said so.
The French foreign ministry, you will note, isn’t contacting the PA and saying, “What is it with you guys? You want negotiations? Cool your demands. You negotiated with Israel last year, even though there was building going on in settlements.”
As has been pointed out before, Obama’s positions have been counterproductive to his stated goal of promoting negotiations for peace.
This leads us to an excellent column, “Listen to the Left,” by Evelyn Gordon.
“When even hard-core Israeli leftists are speaking out against Obama, left-of-center American Jews can no longer pretend there is no problem.”
One problem of concern to leftists here is the fact that, according to Aluf Benn, “Obama never tried to communicate with the Israeli public. [He] spoke to Arabs and Muslims, but not Israelis. His neglect increased fears that we do not have a friend in the White House.”
Then there was ‘the administration’s pathetic attempt to deny the existence of understandings on settlement construction. It was possible to accuse Israel of violating its promises, or to say that the policy had changed, and explain why, but not to lie.”
On top of all of this, according to Benn, “the more time passes, the more it appears that the demand to freeze settlement construction was meant to demonstrate a distancing from Israel. [Obama has turned a settlement freeze] into a matter of honor [and] when the argument is about who is stronger instead of the real issue, anyone who urges Netanyahu to give in to Obama will be accused of being unpatriotic. And the Israeli left does not want to be backed into that corner.”
Columnist Yoel Marcus then added his observation that “there is something naive, not to say infuriating about his policy of dialogue and about the whistle stops he has chosen in his travels regarding our issue. He spoke in Turkey, he spoke in Egypt, he appeared before students in Saudi Arabia, Paris, England, Ghana and Australia.
“Even there the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was mentioned…The only place he hasn’t been is Israel. He has spoke about us, but not to us.” (emphasis added)
Finally, wrote Marcus, “Obama assumed he did a great thing when he spoke in Cairo about the Jewish people’s suffering in the Holocaust, [the] implied distortion that we deserve a state because of the Holocaust [is] infuriating.
“As a leader who aspires to solve the problems of the world through dialogue, we expect him to come to Israel and declare here courageously, before the entire world, that our connection to this land began long before the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Holocaust, that 4,000 years ago, Jews already stood on the ground where he is now standing.”
“The Good News Corner”
A delegation of five Muslim doctors from Senegal came to Jerusalem recently for a week long training seminar on a special technique in circumcision — a clamp method developed by Israeli doctors — because studies show that circumcision reduces by 65% the chances of being infected by AIDS. This seminar is part of a major cooperative effort — an Israeli civilian initiative — that will involve eight Israeli hospitals, and the health ministry and national medical association of Senegal.
Israel had previously sent three teams of doctors to Swaziland to teach these techniques, which are not well known there, as part of an experimental project.
(The bad news is that when the organizers of this program approached Arab medical organizations and invited their staff to attend, they were met with refusal.)