Scathing denunciation of Obama Israeli policy … in The New Republic
Written by Yosi Klein Halevi, it explores a theme I contended a few days ago – that the recent confrontation was premeditated. He also briefly points out that another Israeli reporter is wondering the same thing I did:
The administration, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Yedito Aharonot, is making an even more insidious accusation against Israel. During his visit, wrote Yediot Aharanot, Biden told Israeli leaders that their policies are endangering American lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. The report has been denied in the White House. Whether or not the remark was made, what is clear today in Jerusalem is that Obama’s recklessness is endangering Israeli–and Palestinian–lives.
The last line is indicative of the entire tone of the essay. Halevi is merciless in his denunciation of the Obama administration’s handling of the recent confrontation. “Recklessness” is not a term a contributing editor at TNR is likely to throw around lightly – especially when applying it to a Democratic president.
Astonishingly, Obama is repeating the key tactical mistake of his failed efforts to restart Middle East peace talks over the last year. Though Obama’s insistence on a settlement freeze to help restart negotiations was legitimate, he went a step too far by including building in East Jerusalem. Every Israeli government over the last four decades has built in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; no government, let alone one headed by the Likud, could possibly agree to a freeze there. Obama made resumption of negotiations hostage to a demand that could not be met. The result was that Palestinian leaders were forced to adjust their demands accordingly.
Obama is directly responsible for one of the most absurd turns in the history of Middle East negotiations. Though Palestinian leaders negotiated with Israeli governments that built extensively in the West Bank, they now refused to sit down with the first Israeli government to actually agree to a suspension of building. Obama’s demand for a building freeze in Jerusalem led to a freeze in negotiations.
Finally, after intensive efforts, the administration produced the pathetic achievement of “proximity talks”—setting Palestinian-Israeli negotiations back a generation, to the time when Palestinian leaders refused to sit at the same table with Israelis.
Ignorance? Amateurism? Halevi thinks it’s probably the latter – sort of:
That Obama could be guilty of such amateurishness was perhaps forgivable because he was, after all, an amateur. But he has now taken his failed policy and intensified it. By demanding that Israel stop building in Ramat Shlomo and elsewhere in East Jerusalem—and placing that demand at the center of American-Israeli relations—he’s ensured that the Palestinians won’t show up even to proximity talks. This is no longer amateurishness; it is pique disguised as policy.
While I agree with the assessment that it was “pique disguised as policy”, but I think it was as much ignorance and amateurism. Perhaps your remember Honduras. Halevi lays out the history explaining why the demands of the Obama administration are clueless and have actually set the peace process on it’s rear.
But Halevi isn’t done with the Obama administration – he has more:
In turning an incident into a crisis, Obama has convinced many Israelis that he was merely seeking a pretext to pick a fight with Israel. Netanyahu was inadvertently shabby; Obama, deliberately so.
According to a banner headline in the newspaper Ma’ariv, senior Likud officials believe that Obama’s goal is to topple the Netanyahu government, by encouraging those in the Labor Party who want to quit the coalition.
The popular assumption is that Obama is seeking to prove his resolve as a leader by getting tough with Israel. Given his ineffectiveness against Iran and his tendency to violate his own self-imposed deadlines for sanctions, the Israeli public is not likely to be impressed. Indeed, Israelis’ initial anger at Netanyahu has turned to anger against Obama. According to an Israel Radio poll on March 16, 62 percent of Israelis blame the Obama administration for the crisis, while 20 percent blame Netanyahu. (Another 17 percent blame Shas leader Eli Yishai.)
The “popular assumption” goes directly to what I said a couple of days ago. Despite White House denials, most of Israel is convinced this was a pathetic attempt at muscle flexing. Instead, it probably impressed no one and has instead alienated the Israeli pubic – a citizenry which is, in the majority, for a two-state solution.
Brilliant. Now the talks are back to square one after Rahm Emanuel bragged that the two-state solution would be realized in Obama’s first term (it better be since hopefully that’s all he’ll get).
As it turns out, this has become a fiasco. Instead of a cool head prevailing and calming the waters, the situation was inflamed and escalated. Now the Palestinians have used it as a reason to desert the process and the administration is stuck demanding Israel do something it has always refused to even talk about. It’s interesting that a denunciation of these idiotic demands by the administration isn’t just coming from the right, but from leftist publications such as The New Republic.
Even they could no longer ignore the amateur in the White House.