Obama administration carries on the peace talks “tradition”

If you’re wondering how seriously to take the latest peace process gambit, this, from the Los Angeles Times, sums up the spirit of the latest move:

One White House official on Friday described peace talks as a “tradition” in which every American president must participate.

“This is something that there has been a long-standing U.S. commitment to engage with the Israelis and Palestinians on,” said John Brennan, assistant to the president for counter-terrorism and homeland security. “Previous administrations have dedicated much effort and energy to this, and the Obama administration is carrying this tradition on.”

Pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, the National Christmas Lighting Ceremony, and sponsoring peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians — these are among the varied and wonderful traditions followed by American presidents and Barack Obama is no exception.

The New York Times strikes a more somber tone:

There is little confidence — close to none — on either side that the Obama administration’s goal of reaching a comprehensive deal in one year can be met.

Instead, there is a resigned fatalism in the air. Most analysts view the talks as pairing the unwilling with the unable — a strong right-wing Israeli coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with no desire to reach an agreement against a relatively moderate Palestinian leadership that is too weak and divided to do so.

“These direct negotiations are the option of the crippled and the helpless,” remarked Zakaria al-Qaq, vice president of Al Quds University and a Palestinian moderate, when asked his view of the development. “It is an act of self-deception that will lead nowhere.”

And Nahum Barnea, Israel’s pre-eminent political columnist, said in a phone interview: “Most Israelis have decided that nothing is going to come out of it, that it will have no bearing on their lives. So why should they care?”

That such a dismissive tone comes not from the known rejectionists — the Islamists of Hamas who rule in Gaza and the leadership of the Israeli settler community in the West Bank — but from mainstream thinkers is telling of the mood.

Some Israelis who have spent their professional lives on peace talks with the Palestinians were upset by the fear that failed talks could prove worse than no talks. Yossi Beilin, for example, who left politics in 2008 after years as a leftist member of Parliament and government minister, said Friday that the Obama administration was wrong to set a one-year goal without consequences.

“I think this is a huge mistake by the U.S. administration,” he said by telephone. “There is not a chance in the world that in a year — or two or three — peace can be achieved. The gap between the sides is too big. Netanyahu did not come to power to divide Jerusalem or find a solution to the Palestinian refugees.”

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8 thoughts on “Obama administration carries on the peace talks “tradition”

  1. scott

    I support the Palestinians, but I hope the don’t settle for a two state solution. I want them to enjoy the full bundle of rights that are inalienable. I think a one state solution my be the best route to this. The demographic bomb is ticking and the US is failing economically.

    I don’t know if Israelis fully appreciate this. If they do, this is a first for the peace process.

  2. scott

    This same topic has been running for a couple of days on Steven Walt’s FP site. I’ve written quite a bit in the comments there. I don’t want to copy that, nor to write another version of the same, but, you might check it out if you’re interested in the extensive exchange over there.


    Since I’m using Paul’s comments to reference other sites, Lobelog.com has a couple of new threads on humor in demonizing Iran and other enemies of the US and another on anti-Islamic attacks. In the latter thread I defend the anti-Islamists for their right to free speech and grant them a few points, but get a few shots in as well–think my comment is as long as the original piece.

  3. Norman

    Tradition. What is the mindset behind this sort of thinking? The P.O.T.U.S. allows outsiders to dictate what the U.S. will & won’t do is disgraceful. I believe that what we are witnessing today, is the complete takeover of the Western World by the Bankers. One only has to look at who are at the head of the financial Houses, Wall Street, with the Rothschild on top. This isn’t antisemitism as the Israeli’s would like the World to know, but reality. East vs West, with everything else as pawns. What a destructive plan that has been hatched, with the roots planted in the 19th/20 Century. There is a flaw in the plan, but the perpetrators can’t see where they have buried it. This also is doomed, just when or where, remains to be seen. Unless the U.S. shakes off the shackles, rejects this outside direction, then sooner than later, the World as we know it will cease to exist.

    On wonders why the P.O.T.U.S. is straddling the fence, instead of “Being All He Can Be”? As the leader of the Western World, this question must be answered.

  4. Colm O' Toole

    OK that just really really really pissed me off to hear. I knew these peace talks were pretty much doomed. But tradition? How about some actual thinking. One State Solution Now.

  5. Vince J.

    Obama and Clinton must realize that nobody is taking them seriously anymore. They open their mouths to vomit slogans, spins and lies.
    Gore Vidal warned that Obama will leave office less popular than Bush… he is almost there.

  6. Christopher Hoare

    If the US will not deal honestly with the Palestinians over the theft of their land, they might at least compensate them.

    How about giving them all refugee status and half of California?

  7. Ian Arbuckle

    Obama’s call for direct talks can only collapse and in any event Palestinians are not being represented but betrayed by the ex president of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas who’s mandate expired in January 09. These talks are being called for by Obama for domestic political reasons and to serve the interests of Israel and have absolutely no intention of developing any peaceful resolution of Israel’s illegal and violent occupation of Palestinian lands. If anything the intention is to further demoralize the Palestinians and isolate their duly elected Hamas representatives many of whom now are still in Israeli prisons.

    American policy on this issue is a disgrace to humanity. Every American should be deeply ashamed to see their highest office, being made to serve as a tool for Zionist colonial apartheid and state terrorism while being made to walk back step by step from any meaning Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt in June 09 pledging a new beginning for US Muslim relations. “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world: one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based on the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive,”

    In this America’s stance was unequivocal “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

    What is it that the West asks of Hamas, in order to come to the table?
    Recognize Israel’s right to exist; accept previous agreements; and reject violence; Does Israel or America do any of these things with regard to the Palestinians, their institutions or their aspirations for a state?

    The answer to this question should leave the ordinary world citizen in no doubt as to how to proceed, providing support for the duly elected representatives of the Palestinian people, namely Hamas, and fully support the complete boycott, divest and sanction BDS initiative against Israel, as well as whatever action is necessary to enforce US and European law which stipulate that providing aid to Israel as a WMD rouge and terrorist state must stop. But of course as Americans to do the former would be a crime for which you can go to jail for many years. What shame and hypocrisy!

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