by Ted Belman
President Obama has surrounded himself with a host of vehemently anti-Israel advisers including Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Gen. Jones, many of whom advocate imposing a solution on
So it was no surprise that Obama started his term of office by attacking
In January 2009, before Obama had gotten his act together, Haaretz reported:
MITCHELL TOLD ISRAELI OFFICIALS THAT THE NEW ADMINISTRATION WAS COMMITTED TO ISRAEL'S SECURITY, TO THE ROAD MAP, AND TO THE 2004 LETTER BY PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH STATING Palestinian refugees would not return to Israel and the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would take into consideration facts on the ground, meaning large settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands.
Within a few months, that commitment was history.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who had campaigned on the rejection of the two-state solution and on continued settlement growth, attempted to deflect or resist the pressure. One can only imagine the Tools of Persuasion that Netanyahu was subjected to. Finally, on June 12, 2009, Netanyahu made a major speech at the Begin Centre in which he shocked Israelis by agreeing to a two-state solution.
WE DO NOT WANT TO RULE OVER THEM, WE DO NOT WANT TO GOVERN THEIR LIVES, WE DO NOT WANT TO IMPOSE EITHER OUR FLAG OR OUR CULTURE ON THEM. In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. EACH WILL HAVE ITS OWN FLAG, ITS OWN NATIONAL ANTHEM, ITS OWN GOVERNMENT. NEITHER WILL THREATEN THE SECURITY OR SURVIVAL OF THE OTHER.
Never mind that Netanyahu had only limited sovereignty in mind.
He went on to demand as a precondition that "Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize
With respect to the contentious issue of settlement construction, Netanyahu affirmed that there would be no "building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements." But he reserved the right to "natural growth" within existing settlements.
At the time, these concessions were either warmly received or hotly debated. Many complained that Netanyahu had caved to pressure without procuring anything in return. After all, this was not the platform that he had campaigned on.
A month later, Obama met with Jewish leaders to reassure them, and by all accounts the meeting went well. But shortly thereafter, some Jewish leaders demanded that Obama make demands also on Arab countries. Obama publicly took up the challenge during the summer, thereby admitting that
Undaunted, Obama then focused on getting PNA President Mahmoud Abbas to accept what Netanyahu had offered in his BESA speech when they met in September at the United Nations. Abbas refused to go along. Obama crapped out.
So it then came as a surprise that on November 26, 2009, Netanyahu announced a unilateral ten-month freeze of settlement construction, except for the 3,500 units already announced and natural growth. But he emphasized that the freeze did not apply to
The right in
On the heels of Netanyahu's speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the following statement:
TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF
This is little different from Bush's wording:
IN LIGHT OF NEW REALITIES ON THE GROUND, INCLUDING ALREADY EXISTING MAJOR ISRAELI POPULATIONS CENTERS, IT IS UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT THAT THE OUTCOME OF FINAL STATUS NEGOTIATIONS WILL BE A FULL AND COMPLETE RETURN TO THE ARMISTICE LINES OF 1949, AND ALL PREVIOUS EFFORTS TO NEGOTIATE A TWO-STATE SOLUTION HAVE REACHED THE SAME CONCLUSION. IT IS REALISTIC TO EXPECT THAT ANY FINAL STATUS AGREEMENT WILL ONLY BE ACHIEVED ON THE BASIS OF MUTUALLY AGREED CHANGES THAT REFLECT THESE REALITIES.
Thus the borders probably will be moved east of these blocks, thereby limiting the number of Jews who have to be uprooted to about 50,000, give or take 20,000 depending on negotiations.
So why did Obama repudiate the Bush letter which his man Sen. Mitchell had two months earlier endorsed in his name?
The Obama administration has orchestrated two, and possibly three, major departures from the Bush letter. Bush had written that "Israel must have secure and recognized borders ... in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338," leaving open the possibility that Resolution 242 did not require retreat from all territories.
Whereas Bush had written "and the settling of Palestinian refugees there [
In the grand scheme of things, these differences are of little importance. Why take the heat for so little profit, especially when Bush had said doing otherwise was "unrealistic"?
Perhaps there is another reason.
Bush had committed in said letter that "the
In case you haven't noticed, neither Obama nor his administration refer to the Roadmap. This is because the Roadmap precludes an imposed solution.
It would appear that the Obama administration has no confidence in the achievement of a negotiated solution. Most pundits and politicians believe likewise, including Netanyahu.
The issues are too intractable, in part because the Arabs -- and more specifically the "Palestinians" -- are dedicated to the destruction of
Abbas continues to reject negotiations. He prefers an imposed solution, too.
This standoff may lead to the disintegration of the PA, which would invite unilateral moves by
Will Obama push for a bi-national state or allow
Meanwhile, Obama has less than six months to decide to what extent he will cooperate with
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