The good cop and the bad cop

May God bless and keep the Tsar… far away from us! — Rabbi, in “Fiddler on the Roof”

Mark Landler, in the administration’s favorite newspaper, writes,

WASHINGTON — President Obama, after avoiding a hands-on role in Middle East peacemaking since the setbacks of his first term, plans to plunge back into the effort, his advisers said this week, starting with an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

When he welcomes Mr. Netanyahu to the White House on Monday, these officials said, Mr. Obama will press him to agree to a framework for a conclusive round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that is being drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Later in March, Mr. Obama is likely to meet with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to make the same pitch. The goal, officials said, is to announce the framework, a kind of road map for further talks, by the end of April, the nine-month deadline that Mr. Kerry set last summer for a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

In response to the failure of the Kerry mission — Kerry is an object of derision in Israel, while Mahmoud Abbas has referred to his proposals as “insanity” — the administration seems intent on salvaging its latest effort to push Israel out of the territories by bringing in its biggest gun.

This raises the question, yet again, of American priorities. In a world containing Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria, Iran, Venezuela, etc., how can forcing Israel to commit suicide be so important as to require direct presidential involvement? We all have our theories.

I think, though, that this development doesn’t bode well. If anything characterized Kerry’s approach, it was naivete. According to Palestinian sources,

The top American diplomat reportedly offered for Abbas to form a Palestinian capital in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, not all of East Jerusalem, as the Palestinians have demanded.

Kerry also suggested that Israel keep 10 settlement blocs as part of any territorial exchange, according to Al Quds, the most widely read Palestinian daily, on Wednesday.

The Jordan Valley would not be part of a future Palestinian state, Palestinian sources told the paper, nor would there be an international force stationed there. And Kerry reportedly demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Only someone who believes that Abbas and his PLO are actually interested in ending the conflict and living at peace with a Jewish state could propose such ‘radical’ concessions! Yasser Arafat would turn over in his grave if Abbas were to agree to such a framework.

The Palestinian narrative, which is explained every day in their media and schools, implies that all the land between the river and the sea belongs to them. The magnanimous Abbas is prepared to agree to establish a state today in all of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, rather than insisting on all of the land at once. But by no means will this end the conflict, which will continue by diplomatic and legal means, as Abbas has said in English — and by armed struggle, as Palestinian media say daily.

Kerry apparently didn’t understand this. Far better deals, including the re-division of Jerusalem and the evacuation of the Jordan Valley, were rejected by the PLO in 2001 and 2008, mostly because of the refugee issue (recognizing Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people means, among other things, that the descendents of refugees do not have a right to ‘return’).

The heart of the impasse between Israel and the PLO has always been the same. Although it is not unimaginable that Israel could have reached an accommodation with the Palestinian Arabs in the early 1990’s, it could not have done so — as events showed — with the PLO, whose very reason for being is opposition to Jewish sovereignty. Unfortunately, the PLO, Hamas and even more extreme elements have been able to suppress any moderate elements, and to establish their rejectionist ideologies as preeminent through their control of media, culture and educational systems. Today there is no partner for an agreement that leaves Israel able to defend herself.

The President will have to bring more than his pretty face to the negotiations if he wants to get the PLO to sign onto some kind of deal. And unfortunately, from what we can glean about his beliefs, particularly when we consider his background and associations, there is reason to think that he will lean more in the direction of the PLO than Kerry apparently has.

The NY Times report seems to suggest that Obama will apply more pressure to Israel to make an even more PLO-friendly deal. It’s hard to see how PM Netanyahu can give up on the only issue that matters.

It’s possible that the ‘framework’ will be so ambiguous as to be vacuous. Nevertheless, such an agreement can give more legitimacy to the PLO, and foreclose Israel’s option to end the process and take unilateral action.

We’ve had the good cop. Now we are going to get the bad cop.

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One Response to “The good cop and the bad cop”

  1. Robman says:

    As I’ve said before, this is the ENTIRE purpose of the Obama presidency.

    He ignores all of these other pressing issues in the world – unless they can somehow be used to increase pressure on Israel to capitulate on the PA issue. At the very least, his entire foreign policy revolves around this. Considering how utterly inept he has been on domestic policy – e.g., allowing his signature domestic policy achievement, “Obamacare”, to become a total disaster – it is clear to this observer that such issues are mere distractions from the real focus of his presidency, which is screwing Israel. In other words, we are not simply talking about the main focus of his foreign policy here; this is what his presidency is all about. The amount of energy he spends on this, relentlessly, clearly indicates this, as Vic here has once again showcased on his site with this latest article.

    His intent is to either force a slow assisted suicide Saudi-style “peace deal” with the PA down Israel’s throat, or failing this, use the manufactured issue of “Israeli intransigence” on this issue as an excuse to sabotage the U.S.-Israeli alliance, or what is left of it. His maximum program in this latter case is to sick the UN on Israel, turning Israel into an Apartheid S. Afirca-style pariah state, to be strangled by economic and political isolation.

    I don’t think this will work as he intends, though it does seem that one very important way of punishing Israel has already played out: it does appear that Iran is going to be permitted by Obama to go nuclear. Though I have no documentary proof of this, I strongly suspect that behind closed doors, Obama has warned Israel that if she takes unilateral action against Iran in defiance of his wishes, she’ll have to shoot her way through U.S. forces in the area.

    I hope I’m wrong, but by now, it seems to me that public pronouncements to the contrary aside, the Israeli leadership has resigned themselves to a nuclear Iran, and will organize Israel’s defenses and diplomacy accordingly, hoping for the best.

    But for this reason – i.e., Obama screwing Israel on the Iran issue – Obama has very little leverage left on the PA issue. Diplomatic niceties and maneuverings notwithstanding, I also strongly suspect that Netanyahu’s attitude now is one of: “You betrayed me on Iran, so now there is no way you’re getting a peace deal with the PA out of me!”

    I don’t think an Obama-led campaign to isolate Israel would really work. But what he can do is sabotage the U.S.-Israeli strategic partnership of the past four decades, and barring a Herculean push-back from Congress, I think he’ll succeed.

    I expect that Israel will be pushed into the arms of China. Israeli know-how combined with Chinese manpower and capital will be practically unstoppable. This will be a disaster for objective U.S. interests of historic proportions.

    I think some political figures see this coming, and are trying to stop it. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, Florida), one of Israel’s staunches allies in Congress, has introduced legislation that if passed and signed into law, would place the U.S.-Israeli alliance on a formal par above even the U.S. relationship with NATO. But, I don’t see this making it past the Senate, even if it passed the House, and even if it somehow got through the Senate, if it landed on Obama’s desk, he would surely veto it.

    Obama – or at least the relevant forces that put him into the WH – controls virtually all national print and broadcast media, particularly as this relates to reportage on Israel. With the exception of a rare editorial or op-ed piece here or there, his line is followed almost without exception, when it comes to Israel. He has surrounded himself with utterly rabid Israel-bashers in all important foreign policy/defense-related posts, and I’m sure he’s spent his entire presidency stuffing the State Department and the Pentagon with as many Israel bashers as he could find, to ensure that their culture remains tilted against Israel even after he is gone.

    Again, Israelis who read this blog, sorry about Obama. I never voted for him. But you are better than him, and you can thwart him. Stop Iran from going nuclear if you still can, and you are home free.

    Over here, we still have to put up with Obama for at least three more years, unless he is impeached (which I don’t rule out but which I hardly count on, either). Too bad for us.