Rashid Khalidi writes:
As the dust settles after last week’s “showdown” at the United Nations over the Palestinian application for membership, several initial conclusions can be drawn.
First, the United States now is thoroughly out of touch with most of the international community when it comes to Palestine and Israel. It has positioned itself to the right of the most right-wing, pro-settler government in Israeli history. This was reflected in the joyful reception of President Obama’s speech by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and his right-wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as well as in the Israel lobby’s satisfied response to Obama’s caving in to Israeli demands all along the line.
In an almost surreal display of pandering, Republican presidential candidates—notably Texas governor Rick Perry—disparaged the president for “appeasing” the Palestinians and thereby betraying Israel. This rhetoric came despite the fact that Obama single-handedly sabotaged the Palestinians’ UN bid while publicly lecturing them and the entire General Assembly on the suffering of Israelis without so much as a word acknowledging Israeli occupation, violence and settlements—not to mention the Palestinian suffering caused by these American-supported policies. Obama’s domestic electioneering in the face of a historic demand by the long-suffering Palestinians was not lost on the world. Taken in the context of the Arab Spring and its wave of popular demands for human and political rights, it means that the United States has lost all credibility as an honest broker in this conflict.
The second conclusion to be drawn is that after two decades of the U.S. behaving as “Israel’s lawyer,” the two-state solution is now dead. It has been buried by forty-four years of unceasing Israeli colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem under the benevolent gaze of nine successive U.S. administrations. The most recent in a long line of boastful Israeli announcements of further settlement construction in occupied Arab East Jerusalem last week is a perfect illustration of this truth. Despite the usual expression of “disappointment” from the White House and the State Department, the United States has, in fact, again acquiesced to the illegal colonization of more occupied Palestinian territory. This served as a ceremonial last nail in the coffin of the disastrous American-led process that since the beginning of peace negotiations in Madrid in 1991 oversaw and facilitated the near tripling of the illegal Israeli settler population to well over half a million and the imposition of severe restrictions on the movement of over 4 million Palestinians. [Continue reading…]
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports:
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned on Sunday that Israel was becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East, and said Israeli leaders must restart negotiations with the Palestinians and work to restore relations with Egypt and Turkey.
Mr. Panetta told reporters traveling with him that while Israel is still the most powerful state in the region, “Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you’re isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena?” He continued, “Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength.”