Obama to impose a solution
By Ted Belman
Obama has surrounded himself with a host of vehemently ant-Israel advisors including Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Gen Jones, many of who advocate imposing a solution on Israel.
So it was no surprise that he started his term of office by attacking Israel, America’s best and most steadfast ally, and demanding a complete settlement freeze east of the greenline including Jerusalem. He went so far as to repudiate the US commitment set out in the Bush ’04 letter to Sharon saying there was no agreement. Elliot Abrams and others involved in the negotiations which led to the letter testified otherwise.
In January ’09 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.
PM 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 12/09 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
Nevermind that Netanyahu had only limited sovereignty in mind.
He went on to demand as a precondition that “Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people” and that a Palestinian state be demilitarized, “with ironclad security provisions for Israel.”
With respect to the contentious issue of settlement construction he affirmed that there would be no “building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements.” But reserved the right to “natural growth” within existing settlements:.
As for Jerusalem and refugees, he declared: “Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths.” And he totally rejected the return of refugees to Israel.
At the time, the concessions were warmly received or hotly debated. Many complained that he had caved to the pressure without anything in return. Afterall, this was not the platform that Netanyahu 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 he make demands also on Arab countries. Obama publicly took up the challenge during the summer thereby admitting that Israel should get something in return. He was soundly rebuffed.
Undaunted, Obama then focused on getting 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 had crapped out.
So it then came as a surprise that Netanyahu on Nov 26/09 announced a unilateral ten month freeze of settlement construction except for the 3500 units already announced and natural growth. But he emphasized that the freeze did not include Jerusalem. In fact a few days earlier, a new project of 800 units was announced for the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo. Although Obama complained about it, he probably agreed to it to help Netanyahu win over his right wing.
The right in Israel was incensed; first by the acknowledgement of the two-state solution and now by the freeze, all with nothing in return.
On the heels of Netanyahu’s speech, Sec Clinton made the following statement,
“Today’s announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
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.”
Clinton referred to these realities as “subsequent developments”.
Thus the borders probably will be moved to the east of these blocks thereby limiting the number of Jews that have to be uprooted to about 100,000 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?
There are 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 Res 242 did not require retreat from all territories. Clinton made no mention of 242 and said the borders must be “based on the 1967 lines”. This suggests that all the land is to be ceded, facilitated by mutually agreed swaps.
Whereas Bush had written “and the settling of Palestinian refugees there [Palestine], rather than in Israel.”, Clinton was silent. Is this also a departure? I think so. Obama is clearly trying to stay as close to the Saudi Plan as he can. It requires the settlement of the refugee issue pursuant to UNGA Res 194.
In the 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 was another reason.
Bush had committed in said letter that “the United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan”.
By challenging the whole letter in the first instance and endorsing most of it subsequently, save for this commitment, Obama has succeeded in ridding himself of the commitment. Is Obama thereby reserving the right to impose a plan as many in his administration recommend he do.
In case you haven’t noticed, neither Obama, nor his administration, refer to the Roadmap. That is because the Roadmap precludes an imposed solution.
It would appear that the Obama administration has no confidence that a negotiated solution will be achieved. Most pundits and politicians believe likewise and that includes Netanyahu.
The issues are too intractable, in part because the Arabs and more specifically the “Palestinians” are dedicated to the destruction of Israel. .They haven’t compromised in ninety years. Why start now.
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 Israel, the US or Hamas.
Will Obama push for a binational state or allow Israel to annex Judea and Samaria? Will he attempt to impose a solution? The NYT, in a lead editorial this week, favoured Obama ” Advancing his own final-status plan for a two-state solution is one high-risk way forward that we think is worth the gamble. ”
Meanwhile Obama has less than six months to decide to what extend he will cooperate with Israel in bombing Iran.