October 5, 2010

Nyt: peace process failing despite the great work of the administration

Contrary to the upbeat assessment of the Washington Post, Mark Landler of the New York Times can't figure out why the Middle East peace process isn't going smoothly. In Risks and Advantages in U.S. Effort in Mideast, Landler begins:

When President Obama reopened face-to-face talks between the Israelis and Palestinians last month, he pledged that his administration would hold their hands but warned, "The United States cannot impose an agreement, and we cannot want it more than the parties themselves."

With the negotiations deadlocked over the issue of Jewish settlements, several veterans of Middle East peacemaking said Mr. Obama's warning had come true -- only weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to sit down.

Not only is the Obama administration holding hands, they said, it is also handing out concessions to each side, in a bid to keep Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas at the table. The generosity of the American offers, and the reluctance of the Israelis or the Palestinians to accept them, have been telling.

Now of course what's missing here is any acknowledgment that it was the administration's own maneuverings that led to this problem. After all if the settlement freeze was so important to negotiations, why did Abbas wait until two weeks were left in the freeze to deign to meet with Netanyahu?

Landler would never get to the real problems that Israel has with the administration. Barry Rubin already explained the cynicism behind the administration's "generous" offer to Netanyahu:

First, the administration offers not to seek an extension of a two-month freeze. Why two months, why not three or four? Why not two weeks?

Hmm, readers, what is happening within two months? The U.S. election! The implication is that the Obama Administration is offering Israel the following basic deal: Make us look good until the vote and we will give you a pay-off.

That's it. Because the only alternative view is that the United States believes that the once-every-two-week talks will make such dramatic progress in two months that both Israel and the Palestinians will be on the verge of peace or an end to the freeze won't matter.

Is that credible? No. And so when press reports say that the White House is angry that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the offer we can well understand why this is so. The U.S. government certainly isn't going to pressure the PA to give in, which is the other alternative. The collapse of the peace talks on the verge of the November elections won't make it look good. But if the PA walks out in December won't matter in terms of American politics.

Daled Amos summarized something equally important: why Israel has no reason to trust the administration.

So Mark Landler of the New York Times may be troubled as to why Israel wouldn't accept a generous offer from the administration. Since the offer is coming from an administration that has failed to build trust with Israel and is making the offer in a blatantly cynical fashion, it's not hard to see why Netanyahu is reluctant.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at October 5, 2010 3:15 AM
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