I really cannot say, as the situation is still too fluid and there remain too many unknowns. It seems fair (and not particularly prescient) to say that we’re quite possibly on the cusp of some significant changes — not necessarily for the good.
Netanyahu’s speech to the GA during the day yesterday was replete with comments (painful to read) about how he really truly wants to achieve a peace deal with the Palestinians — how he’ll go to the negotiating table any time, and encourages Abbas to join him there, etc. etc.
The big question, to which I still have no answer, is whether he really truly means it, or is doing damage control — confident that the Palestinians won’t bite.
From a reliable source I today learned that there are people within the administration (although no names were named)pushing Obama to abandon the “peace process” and recognize a Palestinian state .
That might motivate Netanyahu to seek ways to keep the process alive — or at least to keep it from appearing moribund.
While he says he will go to the negotiating table without preconditions, he does stipulate red lines with regard to achieving an agreement. Yesterday he spoke about end of conflict, the need for the Palestinians to recognize us as a Jewish state, and the fact that we will never accept Palestinian “refugees”: “The Palestinians must recognize that the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees is gone.”
And he spoke as well about the need for the Palestinian state to be demilitarized: “We cannot permit another Gaza in the heart of our country.” I mention here, however, that there are serious analysts who claim this would not be possible, that once a sovereign state (again, G-d forbid) were to be established, we could not deny it an army. At any rate, he makes security a priority and if he is serious about this, it is an absolute given that we need high places in Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, and strategic depth provided by communities adjacent to the Green Line — Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, etc.
All of this, as fair and reasonable as it is in terms of our needs and rights (yes, I know we have more rights than these!), is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Thus, as long as these are Netanyahu’s red lines, no matter how he protests that he’s working hard for a final settlement, and no matter how much he may mean it, the simple unalterable truth is that there will not be one.
Netanyahu and Obama met last night for almost two hours. But there was a black-out on the meeting and the standard joint press conference and photo op never materialized. All we can say with some certainty is that Iran and the “peace process” were both discussed.
There was some speculation that the silence either meant that there was no meeting of the minds during discussions and thus nothing positive to report, or that Netanyahu caved in some substantial way and didn’t want to make it public. But we don’t know this. (See below)
From the White House came a statement about how the president remains committed to our security. That gave me an uneasy feeling (never mind that his concept of Israeli security is not the same as mine), for I’ve observed that this is a throw-away line — intended to mollify and reassure — that frequently accompanies an Israeli concession.
Netanyahu even cancelled his routine meeting with Israeli reporters. Clearly he did not want to be questioned. Responding later to comments that the meeting must have gone badly, he said:
“The atmosphere during the meeting with President Obama was very open and very warm. The importance of the visit will be ascertained in the future.”
The meeting, he added, had been “positive and to the point,” and that it had dealt with the peace process and Israel’s security. “We discussed these issues in detail, practically, and out of friendship.”
Which tells us what, exactly?
This business of the meeting’s importance being “ascertained in the future” leads me full circle to my opening comment about the possibility that we’re on the cusp of changes. SOMETHING was decided or agreed upon. The silence did not simply reflect dissension.
While security is an issue raised in the context of forming a Palestinian state, we must remember that it applies as well to Iran — about which Netanyahu was mum here.
Already the Palestinians are backing off with some of their threats. Today PA negotiator Saeb Erekat denied that he ever called for the PA to be dismantled: “I didn’t say that. Nobody said that.”
You might want to see this incisive article by Elliott Abrams about the complete and total failure of Obama’s Middle East policy. While I don’t agree with all of it (we shouldn’t be too complacent about PA security forces taking on terrorism — a subject I must return to), he makes several excellent points. At the end of the day we could say that Obama is an equal opportunity president — he and his secretary of state alienate all parties equally.
Abrams, who is now senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has served in a number of positions in government, most recently as Deputy National Security Advisor for George Bush.
Netanyahu is now on his way to France, where he will meet with President Sarkozy tomorrow. Not likely to be an easy trip. Today French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said this:
“What really hurts me, and this shocks us, is that before there used to be a great peace movement in Israel. There was a left that made itself heard and a real desire for peace.
“It seems to me, and I hope that I am completely wrong, that this desire has completely vanished, as though people no longer believe in it.”
A fairly vile but not atypical statement. Being ready to make major concessions and surrender Israeli rights is what qualifies one as “for peace.”
While Sarkozy has been a disappointment in several respects, his relationship with us is far better than Kouchner’s.
From one savvy reader has come this comment with regard to the Fort Hood jihad massacre:
“The biggest question of all, and one NO ONE is asking: How many more traitors have infiltrated our military and how demoralizing will it be for our brave young men and women in uniform to be looking over their shoulders in fear of their comrades in arms?”
I thought this worth repeating, and thank you, Micki.
In this very regard, David Horowitz (publisher of Front Page Magazine, don’t confuse him with the editor of the Jerusalem Post) has provided a no-holds barred analysis of the situation:
“The Ft. Hood killings are the chickens of the left coming home to roost…The fifth column formed out of the unholy alliance between radical Islam and the American left is now entrenched in the White House and throughout our government.”
I also heard from a former associate of mine, who used to do undercover work (in a hijab) in places of Muslim radicalism. She picked up on what I wrote yesterday regarding Anwar al-Awlaki, who served as imam in a mosque in VA that both Hasan and three of the 9/11 terrorists attended. She identified the mosque as the Dar al-Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, which, she said was and is one of the most radical mosques in the US. She found going there scary. (Not, she says, that the one in Silver Spring he was reported to have attended is much better.)
(This lady knows I appreciate her comments, and I won’t identify her even by first name.)