by Barry Rubin
The Obama Administration now has a huge problem in its Israel-Palestinian policy about which no one is yet speaking. Since the White House lacks the stomach to deal with it the problem won't be evident for some time, except perhaps to the readers of these words.
Here's the issue. It's simple. It should be obvious: How is the Obama Administration going to get the Palestinians to the table now that
After eight months of back and forth,
The White House did issue a statement setting forth its own ideas for a peace agreement which, while asking big concessions of
The bottom line, however, is this: The Obama Administration has run out of unilateral concessions it can demand from
To put it simply: A pressure
So what is the Obama Administration going to do? To get the PA to talk it must either get more from
In principle, the PA should be eager for talks. Obama believes that the Palestinians situation is "intolerable," so aren't they eager for progress? And also the PA owes Obama big-time. The
He could ask for concessions. He could demand concessions. He could pressure them for concessions.
And what's the big concession? Come negotiate and get your state, which would be the same size as all the pre-1967
Yet it is hard to see this happening. Why? The traditional reason for not wanting to pressure the Palestinians is that
With the Obama Administration, however, there is something more. First, it hates to pressure anyone (or at least anyone except
Then there's still another problem. No matter what the Obama Administration does the PA will say, "No." And then what will the White House do? Provoke an open rift; heated criticism; cutting off aid? Not a chance. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas might even, gasp!, threaten again for a week or two that he's going to resign.
Mind you, the PA leadership can't give in even if it wants to do so because of internal politics. Abbas knows, too, that his colleagues will broil him if he makes concessions. We already saw how this works. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas promises Obama to hang back on pushing the Goldstone report. Even more radical PA leaders attack Abbas. Abbas gives in.
Also, never forget Hamas. Fear of Hamas, combined with hope that Hamas will make an alliance with itself, also keeps the PA from doing anything conciliatory. Does the Obama Administration really think it can make a permanent full peace agreement with a bunch of genocidal-intentioned Usama bin Ladin clones sitting over in the Gaza Strip? That's a joke.
Then, too, the chickens are coming home to roost on the Obama Administration policy of being so determined not to scare anyone. If Abbas stubbornly refuses to do anything, he knows that Obama won't do anything to him. Is he going to rush to go off to
What's left? Can the
So unless you hear about tremendous
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.