by Barry Rubin
If solving the Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's
Here it is. The president of the
This event isn't going to happen.
When the president of the
Yet when President Barack H. Obama stood before the world's assembled leaders that's precisely what he did. For an administration approaching the end of its first year in office that's dangerous amateurism.
The fly in the ointment here is the PA and this is no minor detail. The PA says repeatedly that it will not even meet formally with
In short, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is not going to back down on his demand. He is more afraid of his own colleagues, Hamas's baiting him as a "moderate" (a compliment perhaps from the West but a deadly insult in Palestinian politics), and his own people than of Obama. Indeed, nobody is afraid of Obama which is one of the main problems with his foreign policy.
Disdaining the use of threats, leverage, and pressure, the Obama administration is not likely to push the PA very hard on this and even if it did Abbas would stand firm. Having extolled the Palestinians as peace-loving martyrs, courting Arab and Muslim opinion, treasuring popularity, the administration won't get tough. No amount of funding or other goodies is going to move the PA or Abbas either. For Abbas, it is something like the classical choice which can be paraphrased as: Your money or your life?
So there is, and will be, a deadlock, month after month through into 2010. Is there some clever way out? I don't see one and am willing to bet the administration doesn't either.
Remember this president said repeatedly--in his
In contrast, Abbas has an attractive policy alternative: strike a militant pose, blame
The Palestinians can also afford the luxury of believing—and this is what Western policy has taught them—that Europe and
This is the corner into which the Obama Administration has painted itself. And all that it has left is what might be called the cat strategy. Have you ever seen a cat miss a leap or have an embarrassing fall? It merely licks itself and looks around with an expression saying: I meant to do that. Everything is going according to plan.
But it isn't.
The newest development is the idea, favored by many in the European Union, of endorsing PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's "plan" for there to be a Palestinian state within two years. Of course, this won't happen either.
The whole thing is taking on a comic opera air. It reminded me of something. And then I remembered: the classical description of the Arab defeat in the 1948 war and
"Seven Arab states declare war on Zionism in
For the Arab states, the fiery speeches do have a value of their own, cowing rivals and mobilizing the masses to support their local dictator. But when the
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