I have seen these people, the LORD said to Moses, and they are a stiff-necked people. — Exodus 32:9
Two unnamed members of the Obama/Kerry negotiating team — probably former Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and academic David Makovsky — gave an interview to Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, published yesterday, in which they displayed the ignorance, arrogance and bias that characterizes this administration and its clumsy attempt to force Israel into a disastrous deal with the PLO.
The interview is here. The officials’ account is riddled with inconsistencies — for example, they claim that the last straw, the final blow that caused Abbas to abandon negotiations was the announcement that Israel intended to build in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem:
And then came the Housing and Construction Ministry’s announcement of building tenders for more than 700 housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.
Abbas lost interest. He turned to the reconciliation talks with Hamas and to the question of who would inherit his mantle. According to the Americans, this is the reason for his recently launched public front against Mohammed Dahlan.
The Americans understood from their Israeli counterparts that the Gilo tenders announcement was an intentional act of sabotage, one of many, by Housing Minister Uri Ariel, an extremist who opposes any agreement with the Palestinians.
But earlier they said that Abbas agreed to the Clinton parameters regarding Jerusalem: Jewish neighborhoods would be in Israel, Arab neighborhoods would become part of Palestine (never mind that this might be a terrible idea). What is Gilo if not a Jewish neighborhood? And they fail to mention that prior to this announcement, Abbas violated his commitment not to seek statehood through the UN, and applied to join various UN treaties and conventions. So how could this have been the ‘last straw’?
Throughout the interview, they blame Israel for the failure of the talks, in particular for settlements. They completely fail to understand the significance of the recognition issue, or the degree of importance attached by Israel to security:
We couldn’t understand why [recognizing Israel as a Jewish state] bothered [Abbas] so much. For us, the Americans, the Jewish identity of Israel is obvious. We wanted to believe that for the Palestinians this was a tactical move – they wanted to get something (in return) and that’s why they were saying ‘no.’
“The more Israel hardened its demands, the more the Palestinian refusal deepened. Israel made this into a huge deal – a position that wouldn’t change under any circumstances. The Palestinians came to the conclusion that Israel was pulling a nasty trick on them. They suspected there was an effort to get from them approval of the Zionist narrative.
If the “Zionist narrative” means that there can be a Jewish state in the Middle East, then Netanyahu is guilty as charged! If US negotiators were too obtuse to understand why Israel demanded this and why the Palestinians would not agree, then they understood nothing.
“At the end of a war [referring to 1991, the Gulf War] there is a sense of urgency,” they said. And then one of them added bitterly: “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.”
“20 years after the Oslo Accords, new game rules and facts on the ground were created that are deeply entrenched. This reality is very difficult for the Palestinians and very convenient for Israel.”
Another intifada? The reality of 1400 dead Jews since Oslo was “convenient?”
What I found the most distressing was the insulting, demeaning tone — the lack of respect for the sovereign state of Israel, mixed with threats. Here are some examples:
“As of now, nothing is stopping the Palestinians from turning to the international community. The Palestinians are tired of the status quo. They will get their state in the end – whether through violence or by turning to international organizations.
The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation [traditional anti-Jewish themes]. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.
Israel is not China. It was founded by a UN resolution. Its prosperity depends on the way it is viewed by the international community.
This is a remarkably ignorant statement. The Jewish nation is actually a lot like China, going back thousands of years, always with a presence in and a connection to the land of Israel. Created by a UN resolution? Do they mean the non-binding and never implemented 181? The modern state of Israel was created by the struggle and blood of the Jewish people who threw out the British colonialists and defended themselves against the genocidal Arabs, who quite literally subscribed to Nazi doctrine.
Excuse me, these are the diplomats who represent the US? Or just a pair of idiots?