Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Obama: Honesty with Israel is the best policy - Go for it!


by Ami Isseroff


President Obama has said that the U.S. Must Be More 'Honest' With Israel. He said there should be no equivocation. That's a really good idea. Let's start with an unequivocal statement that says the United States will honor its written commitments and past agreements, because without that, there isn't going to be any basis for going forward. It doesn't seem to be forthcoming.


Here's part of an interchange with State Department Spokesperson Robert Wood:


QUESTION: The United States, in the form of a letter that President Bush sent to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, made certain commitments to the Israeli state. I have tried to ask whether or not the Obama Administration feels bound by the commitments that President Bush expressed in that letter, which the Israelis would certainly feel comprise obligations on the part of the United States that we have made. Does the United States regard itself as - right now, as being bound by those commitments that President Bush made?


MR. WOOD: Look, what we are trying to do, James, is to get both parties to implement their obligations, written obligations in the Roadmap. We're trying to get those implemented. Our vision for a two-state solution cannot happen if these obligations are not, you know, held to. And so what Senator Mitchell has been trying to do is to work with the two sides. Both sides have an interest in meeting these obligations. They both want peace. We have said we will be a partner in trying to help them implement them - implement their obligations.


QUESTION: What about the letter?


MR. WOOD: Well, I - look, I speak for this Administration. I've told you exactly what we are doing with regard to trying to get both parties to live up to their written obligations.


QUESTION: What about our written obligations? Do we live up to the ones that we set?


MR. WOOD: Look, we - the United States lives up to its obligations. Right now, we are focused on, as I said, trying to get both sides to adhere to the Roadmap so that we can move forward toward that two-state solution. And it's not going to be easy, as you know. We've spoken to that many times. And we're going to continue to try to do that.


QUESTION: Is the letter binding or not on this Administration?


MR. WOOD: Look, what I'm saying to you, James, is we have - there are a series of obligations that Israel and the Palestinians have undertaken.


QUESTION: I haven't asked about their obligations and what they've undertaken. I've asked about a letter that this country sent to Israel. I'd like you to address that letter.


MR. WOOD: Well --


QUESTION: Is it binding on this Administration?


MR. WOOD: Well, this Administration is - as I said, has laid out its proposals, its strategy for moving forward. And that's about the best I can help you with on that, James.


QUESTION: Does it entail that letter?


MR. WOOD: I've said what I can say on this right now.


QUESTION: Robert, do you realize that by not saying yes, indeed the U.S. Government continues to be bound by the letter that former President George W. Bush sent, you are leaving open in the air the possibility that it does not see itself as bound?


MR. WOOD: I don't believe I'm doing that at all. What I'm saying to you is we have had a series of discussions with our Israeli and Palestinian partners. We've had discussions about their obligations and what both sides need to do. Both sides are well aware of what they need to do, and they know that we are trying to help them meet their obligations. And we'll continue to do that.


And I'm just not going to get into the substance of what a previous administration may have agreed to. I'm focused on what this Administration is trying to do right now. And that's where we are.

Do you understand what U.S. policy is from the above? I don't. Is it unequivocal? If the Bush letter is to be honored, how can the U.S. ask for a complete settlement freeze? What happened to honesty and not equivocating?



Ami Isseroff

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