by Elliott Abrams
The Obama administration's
"Obama to Impose Terms on
But the substance is clear: It is a threat against
The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to get to the negotiating table is, in this administration, an iatrogenic disease: Our diplomatic doctors have caused it. The astonishing incompetence of Obama and special envoy George Mitchell has now twice blown up talks—direct talks last year, and proximity talks more recently—by making Israeli construction plans a major world crisis, thereby forcing Palestinian leaders to back away from engagement with the Israelis. So the administration will, in the fall, just do it the simpler way. Why bother with Israelis and Palestinians, in whom the president apparently does not have "growing confidence," when you can just have your own brilliant team draw up the terms? As Ignatius's sources, "two top administration officials," tell him, "everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal."
This is false and dangerous. First, if indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since
One of Ignatius's sources says the Obama plan will "take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security." After 14 months of harassment by Obama and his team, will any Israeli risk his nation's safety on that assurance?
A tell-tale: One of the demands that Obama is said to have made of Prime Minister Netanyahu is withdrawal to the pre-intifada (September 2000) IDF lines in the
Ignatius reports, approvingly, that Obama came to the conclusion that he should impose a "peace plan" after meeting with six former national security advisors. The first to suggest imposing terms on
Perhaps this is all a trial balloon by Obama and Jones. If so, it will make Israeli-Palestinian negotiations even harder than they are today, after 14 months of Obama administration failures. For Palestinians will conclude that they have no reason to negotiate seriously, or to make concessions, when Obama may deliver what they want on a nice platter; and Israelis will conclude that Washington no longer takes their security seriously, so they must toughen their stance.
According to Ignatius, one senior official explained that "the American peace plan would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran," because "the issues are two halves of a single strategic problem" and "we have to get the debate away from settlements and East Jerusalem and take it to a 30,000 feet level that can involve, Jordan, Syria, and other countries in the region." There is a certain irony here, since the administration itself is wholly responsible for making "settlements and
Ignatius begins his column by writing that "despite recent turbulence in
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for
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