by Leo Rennert
Strip away all the obligatory diplomatic niceties during Secretary of State Clinton's 24-hour visit to Jerusalem and we're right back to the Obama administration's failed strategy of always leaning on Israel for concrete concessions and compromises, while letting Palestinian leaders off the hook.
In meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, Clinton pressed Israel to take the initiative and offer new gestures and sweeteners to lure Palestinian President Abbas back to the negotiating table, according to Israeli media reports.
Specifically, she asked Israel to approve small-arms transfers to the Palestinian Authority and to release Palestinian prisoners - without any immediate reciprocity by Abbas.
This puts a squeeze on Bibi. If he doesn't submit to Clinton's arms twisting, he will be blamed for torpedoing the peace process. If he obliges her, Abbas simply will pocket these new Israeli concessions -- and ask for more with help from the Obama administration.
Clinton argued that Abbas is the best peace partner Israel has ever had and nobody knows who might be his successor. So it's up to Israel to get the ball rolling. This has been standard diplomacy under Obama -- get Israel to do the heavy lifting, while ignoring the dark side of Abbas, starting with his glorification of Palestinian terrorist murderers.
In similar fashion, Clinton put the onus on Israel to mend relations with Turkey, telling Israeli leaders that it's in their vested interest to find ways to get back on Ankara's good side. Never mind that the reason relations with Turkey have gone south is that Prime Minister Erdogan and his Islamist party have been waging a relentless propaganda campaign accusing Israel of "massacring" Palestinians in Gaza, calling Israeli leaders genocidal terrorists, while defending Hamas rule in Gaza.
Turkey's hostility dates back to early 2009 when Erdogan went ballistic about Israel because it used its right to self-defense against thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza with a counter-terrorism offensive to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians in southern Israel. Erodogan ratcheted up his slander offensive against Israel the following year when Turkish pro-Hamas provocateurs tried to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. When Israeli commandos sought to halt the Turkish flotilla, they were viciously attacked with hammers and iron bars by the Turkish assailants as they rappelled down from a helicopter onto the top deck of the Mavi Marmara, the lead vessel. Seven commandos were injured.
Reacting in self-defense, the commandos eventually opened fire and killed nine of the Turkish attackers. Erdogan, of course, didn't see it that way. He severed diplomatic ties and redoubled his fulminations against the Jewish state.
Given this history, it boggles the mind that Clinton is prodding Israel to heal a rift with Turkey which is entirely due to the reckless and viciously anti-Israel policies of Turkey under Erdogan. As with Abbas, Erdogan gets a free pass, while Israel is pressured to soothe his anger.
According to some media reports, Clinton's full bag of pressures on Israel also included not-so-subtle demands to align its strategy against Iran's nuclear program with Washington's own timetable - i.e. leave Iran alone at least until after the November elections.
In sum, a déjà vu performance by the secretary of a failed, time-worn script. Jerusalem mission -- not accomplished. Team Obama has become inconsequential -- to both the Israelis and the Palestinians.Leo Rennert
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