Yorams back from the States Shares his views on Obama
Pleased that my co-host of Israelseen is back from the U.S. and now has much to say about his impressions of President Obama and his realtionship with Israel. My views are pretty much in sync with his observation of the events currently unfolding. Enjoy.
“SAUDIS REJECT AMERICAN APPROACH TO MIDEAST PEACE Prince Faisal calls for immediate final status talks. (no confidence building measures)
and “Depressing signs from Riyadh, Ramallah and Damascus.”
Upon retuning from the US, I wrote a blog but never got around to posting it. I asked the question; how many years would it take for the Middle-East overcome President Obamas well intended but tragically flawed policy initiatives? I was especially concerned with the effect of his overtures to Syria and the results this would likely have on Lebanon.
Over the past few years, as Syria tried to duck the accusations of its involvement in the murder of Lebanese PM Harriri by lowering its profile in Lebanon, American’s policy of sanctions and withdrawal of its ambassador sent a clear message of both disapproval and a subtle announcement that Syria was under observation and needed to be cautious in its policies towards Lebanon. And it was!
By announcing the return of an American ambassador plus individual high level visits to Damascus the new administration was giving a message that Assad had some wiggle room. It on Lebanon that he will wiggle!
The latest announcement that America was resuming its sanctions against Syria will prove interesting when there is also an American ambassador in Damascus.
However the latest news from the M-E, that the Arab world has returned or should I say remained in the place of three no’s reminiscent of the post ’67 three no’s that were the policy decisions in the Arab League Khartoum meeting of 1967 seem to be repeated now. And that was in response to Israel’s offer to return the “occupied territories” immediately after the Six Day War. (Before there was a question or problem of settlements.)
The Saudi foreign minister has declared that incremental moves by the kingdom to help stimulate the peace process would be a waist of time. He rejects the American administrations plan of a settlement freeze by Israel leading to, and being undertaken along side various proposed “confidence building” measures by the Arab states.
The Palestinians have added their contribution by continuing to refuse to accept Israel’s self definition as a “Jewish state”.
The real damage is that these expressions by the Arab world, after Obamas outreach combined with his insistence on what for Israelis is a major concession, the freezing of settlement activity, only strengthens Netanyahu’s refusal to smile and comply with the new American president. Even more, it reinforces the traditional distorted Israeli policy of just creating smoke then continuing with the same untenable policies, and claiming innocence all along the way. It appears, that with the help of the Palestinians and the Arab states, this time it worked AGAIN!
With this, not only are Netanyahu’s policies justified, but what’s left of The Left finds itself standing on a smaller ledge than ever before.
Its not only the Israeli Left.
If he is a man of honor, Obama must conclude that the advise given to him by his close personal advisers and the American Jewish left, which proudly declared “We have your back!” over his demands towards Israel are now left completely naked. They should have “Had his front”, been more aware where his policies were going. It was not the Israeli settlement policy which has scuttled the process and been responsible for the reputation of the president.
The real challenge to Israel and its settlement policies would have been a full court press on the Arab world to initiate the kind of statements and gestures that would have stimulated a real discussion in Israel over the settlement policy. A debate which with American pressure on the Arabs, the settlement community could have only lost. In stead, the settlement community is infinitely strengthened and has proven itself able o read the reality more accurately than the ever diminishing left or even the struggling political center which is also a looser in this festival of mistaken enthusiasm for the foreigner who will come and save us from ourselves.
The result here is that we are further than ever from a realistic adult policy visa vi Judea & Samaria and the Jews living there. The attempt to continue Sharon’s policies of reducing the Israeli presence across the Green Line have been dealt a near fatal blow. It will be years before any serious Israeli politician will dares raise that issue.
Of course Netanyahu did miss an opportunity to ride even higher. Had he gone along with Obama on the settlement issue, and then allowed the Arabs to make their traditional position clear; no recognition; no negotiations; no peace; Israel would have emerged in an even stronger position.
It should also be NOTED; in the M-E “things” do not go back to where they were before. People are too invested in wanting an end to the conflict. They actually are really affected anew each time the hopes and aspirations are proven false. With each well publicized failure, the possibilities for reconciliation and peace are negatively affected. The process of possible reconciliation is retarded.
Just imagine the power we would have created if PM Netanyahu had turned to President Obama in that first meeting in the White House and said “OK, Mr. President we accept and appreciate your efforts to bring peace to our country. Even though we do not agree with you that halting all building east of the green line will bring a positive change in our reign, on Wednesday my government will bring all building in those areas to a halt. We anxiously await the response from the Arab people and their legitimate leaders to your profound initiative of hope!”