Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Clinton Keeps Twisting Bibi’s Arm

by Jennifer Rubin

The drumbeat from the Obami on a settlement moratorium continues. Hillary Clinton is now finger-wagging, continuing to apply public pressure on Israel to extend the settlement freeze.

This report explains:

Speaking as she flew to Egypt for a second round of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Clinton said the two sides would get “down to business” and she repeated the U.S. view that Israel should extend its moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank.

She also sought to counter widespread pessimism over the first direct peace talks after a 20-month hiatus, given the political divisions in Israel and among the Palestinians.

“For me, this is a simple choice: no negotiations, no security, no state,” Clinton said as she began her journey to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the talks will take place on Tuesday.

The logic is impeccable – unless you realize that Israel has been negotiating for 60 years, making offer after offer — and the Palestinians still can’t give up the dream of a one-state solution. I suppose the choice is “simple” for them: terrorism over peace, rejectionism over compromise.

The imbalance in the U.S. rhetoric is telling. Clinton’s demand on Israel is pointed and specific: “The United States believes that the moratorium should be extended.” Her ”demands” of the Palestinians are vague. It’s not even clear that there are any demands: “This has to be understood as an effort by both the prime minister and the president to get over the hurdle posed by the expiration of the original moratorium in order to continue negotiations. … There are obligations on both sides to ensure that these negotiations continue.” What might the Palestinians’ obligations be? (Stop inciting violence, stop publicly rejecting recognition of the Jewish state?) Hard to say – especially for Clinton.

The Obami are forever playing a scene from the Perils of Pauline, narrowly escaping catastrophe (i.e., the complete collapse of talks and the humiliation of the president who put a peace deal at the top of his foreign policy agenda). The train is barreling down the tracks again, and we’ll see if Clinton and her boss can wriggle free once more. Meanwhile, we are no closer to “peace” than we have been for 60 years. And those centrifuges in Iran keep on whirling.

Jennifer Rubin

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