Tom Friedman today has some very harsh words for both the Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom — he claims — are not serious about reaching a peace agreement. As a result, these are the principles which Friedman — rather surprisingly — advocates the U.S. should follow:
Let’s just get out of the picture. Let all these leaders stand in front of their own people and tell them the truth: “My fellow citizens: Nothing is happening; nothing is going to happen. It’s just you and me and the problem we own.”
Indeed, it’s time for us to dust off James Baker’s line: “When you’re serious, give us a call: 202-456-1414. Ask for Barack. Otherwise, stay out of our lives. We have our own country to fix.” …
If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it. I just don’t want to subsidize it or anesthetize it anymore. We need to fix America. If and when they get serious, they’ll find us.
The only specific course of action Friedman explicitly advocates to fulfill those principles is that the U.S. cease its efforts to forge a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stop trying to pressure them into concessions, instead leaving each side to stew in the status quo — in other words, do exactly that which the Netanyahu government would like most. That would be a perfectly fine suggestion if not for the fact that the U.S. is heavily invested in the outcome of that process and its interests substantially and directly impacted by what happens. That’s because we single-handedly enable Israeli behavior with our massive amounts of military aid, diplomatic protection, and weapons supplying, which means Israeli behavior is rationally perceived by much of the Muslim world as being one and the same as American behavior. Muslim anger towards Israel will inevitably translate into Muslim anger towards the U.S. for as long as we continue to flood Israel with aid and cover. [continued…]
Regardless of whether there is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the United States became a distinctly pro-Israel world power after the 1967 war. It has no intention of being a “balanced mediator” when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians.
Barack Obama’s public relations moves in the Arab world have frightened many average Israelis. But Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, allies of the final takeover of the West Bank, know very well that U.S. policy has not changed. It doesn’t take a genius to read the working papers of past prime ministers.
The prevailing attitude of all U.S. administrations was drafted by Henry Morgenthau, and was later updated by Kenneth Waltz. One line guided all of them – Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, George Mitchell – essentially, that any possible settlement must match the positions of the stronger party. [continued…]
‘Who lost China?” was the battle cry of a witch-hunt conducted in the US State Department following the 1949 victory of Mao Zedong’s communists. The department’s “China hands”, critics charged, had been woefully ignorant of the dynamics at work on the ground in China after the Second World War, and undermined the US ally Chiang Kai-shek. While the purge that followed is unlikely to be repeated, Washington may soon be asking itself, albeit quietly, “Who lost Fatah?”
Last week’s announcement by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that he would not seek re-election next January was a warning to the Obama administration, which had put Mr Abbas in an untenable position. Having retreated from its own demand that Israel halt all construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Washington expected Mr Abbas to open talks with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu without conditions.
For the Palestinians, however, the settlement-freeze demand was a test of Mr Obama’s willingness to pressure the Israelis into taking steps they won’t take by choice. Mr Abbas knows that Mr Netanyahu, if it were up to him, would not yield to a viable, independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. If the US is not prepared to pressure Israel, negotiations would not only be fruitless, they would actually help sustain a reality that is relatively comfortable for the Israelis but intolerable for the Palestinians. [continued…]
The head of a U.N. investigation that accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, Richard Goldstone, has said he is disappointed there has been such a “lukewarm” reaction to his findings in the United States.
The report by Goldstone, a South African jurist, lambasted both sides in the December-January war, which killed up to 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, but was harsher toward Israel.
It gave Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants six months to mount credible investigations or face possible prosecution in The Hague. Both Israel and Hamas denied committing war crimes. [continued…]