Obama at UN: same old pro-Israel rhetoric UPDATE

What Obama said after today's UN meeting with Bibi Netanyahu and Mamoud Abbas: that "Israel, Palestinians must do more," met expectations that no progress will be in the offing in the near future.

What more must they do? This is perhaps the first time since Clinton and Bush II used the 'wink and nod' policy to condone the continuation of Israeli colonialism of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, that an Israeli PM used the same tactic. Is Netanyahu really for the two state solution? Wink, wink, and nod. If he is unwilling to halt the colonialism and insists on continuing the building and expansion of settlements then there will be no room for a Palestinian state.

The issue now is how to blame the Palestinians for the stalemate. In this, Obama came to the rescue. Obama himself did the dirty work, just as Clinton did so after Camp David. Let's find out how from the MSNBC report:

In a moment deep in symbolism but offering little expectation of any immediate breakthrough, Obama brought together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for their first three-way meeting. Obama's words as the meeting got under way showed frustration with the looming gap between the two sides as the U.S. again tries to foster a deal.

"Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," Obama said.

Obama got specific with his expectations for both sides and outlined a timeline of steps for the coming weeks, eager to show momentum.


The three-way sit-down began about an hour late, after Obama had met individually with both men. Obama said everyone has "worked tirelessly" but still not done enough.

To Palestinians, he said they must build on progress on halting terrorism and "do more to stop incitement."

As for Israelis, he praised their moves to increase Palestinians' freedom of movement and their discussions about restraining Jewish settlement-building in Palestinian territories -- both top priorities of Palestinians.

But, said Obama, Israeli officials "need to turn these discussions into real action." Despite all the obstacles, Obama said, "We have to find a way forward."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32963631/ns/ politics-white_house

So now we get it. Obama has taken up Israeli propaganda memes, the oldest one about Palestinian 'terrorism,' that the Palestinians must do more to halt terrorism if progress is to be seen. Now that's a new slant on the reasons why there is no progress. There has been no terrorism (read resistance to Israel's occupation and colonialism) since the retaliatory suicide bombings which stopped five years ago (I won't get into what 'retaliatory' means in this context or describe Israel's state terrorism that preceded it. Those who understand the propaganda will not ask.).

Why Obama agreed to resurrect this old propaganda meme at the UN is unclear in its implications, except possibly to set the Palestinians up once again for the blame for lack of progress, another 'generous offer' lost. Oy.

But here is the 'terrorism' reality, keeping in mind that we are talking about deaths incurred on both sides during Israel's illegal military occupation, whose sole purpose has been to support the colonization of Palestinian lands, which Netanyahu wishes to continue.

123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,487 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.


"The majority of these [Palestinian] children were killed and injured while going about normal daily activities, such as going to school, playing, shopping, or simply being in their homes. Sixty-four percent of children killed during the first six months of 2003 died as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks, or from indiscriminate fire from Israeli soldiers." - Catherine Cook.

Source: Remember These Children, a coalition of groups calling for an end to the killing of children and a fair resolution of the conflict, reports that 1,056 Palestinian children and 123 Israeli children were killed between Sep 29, 2000 and early December 2008. (View the complete list of the victims, which was last updated on February 3, 2009.) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that at least 431 Palestinian children (and no Israeli children) were killed during Israel's Dec 27, 2008 - Jan 18, 2009 assault on the Gaza strip. This number does not include any killings of Palestinian children in the West Bank, which may have taken place since the beginning of 2009.

At least 6,348 Palestinians and 1,072 Israelis have been killed since September 29, 2000.


Source: The number of Palestinian deaths is almost certainly an underestimate as it does not include the most recent deaths in the West Bank. B'Tselem, The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories reports that 4,908 Palestinians were killed by Israelis and 1,062 Israelis were killed by Palestinians between September 29, 2000 and December 26, 2008. (Visit their statistics page.) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that at least 1,440 Palestinians were killed during the Israel's assault on the Gaza strip, between December 27, 2008 and February 5, 2009. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that 5 Israeli soldiers and 4 civilians were killed by Palestinians between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009, and 1 soldier was killed on January 27, 2009.

39,019 Palestinians and 8,864 Israelis have been injured since September 29, 2000.


Source: The Palestine Red Crescent Society, reports that between Sep 29, 2000 and Dec 31, 2008, 33,639 Palestinians were injured. (Visit their statistics page.) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that approximately 5,380 Palestinians were injured in Israel's assault on Gaza from Dec 27, 2008 - Jan 18, 2009. (This does not include Palestinians injured in the West Bank durng this time.)

Israel's Foreign Ministry reports that 8,341 Israelis were injured by Palestinians between Sep 29, 2000 and Dec 31, 2007. (Visit their list. Their statistics may be somewhat inflated they may include non-Israelis injured in the conflict as well as Israelis who were injured in other places or by people who are not Palestinian.) The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that approximately 523 Israelis were injured during Israel's assault on Gaza from Dec 27, 2008 - Jan 18, 2009.

Obama's presentation at the UN must therefore be viewed as a step back from peace negotiations and a realization that he is too weak to do what his predecessors were unable or fearful of doing.


This morning's headlines published in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, read as follows:

Netanyahu: Demand for settlement freeze 'costing time'

Story by the Associated Press

But this one takes the cake:

Netanyahu: Obama pledged commitment to Israel in front of Muslim world; FM: Israel winning on settlements.

A day after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at a tripartite summit in New York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the U.S. demand for a complete settlement freeze in the West Bank was "costing us a great deal of time."

Netanyahu, who has rebuffed the Obama administration's repeated calls for a complete freeze to activity in West Bank settlements, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer:

"I think that raising this condition, something that hasn't happened in 15 years of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue - nobody put this precondition - this is just costing us a great deal of time."

"The issue of settlements has to be discussed at the end or in the context within these negotiations, not before," he added.

In other words, no Israeli PM has ever stopped the colonization of Palestinian lands in order to discuss peace with the Palestinians or a Palestinian state. Can anyone make heads or tails out of this? To me, this no conditions stance is like a criminal negotiating with his victim on how much he intends to steal from him, if not everything, while in the motions.

Tags: Abbas, Israel, Netanyahu, obama, Palestine (all tags)



Another reading...

Though the settlement freeze is crucial, Obama is right to both push for cessation of construction in the occupied territories and make it harder for Bibi to use the settlements to avoid negotiations.  He's doing all he can to take everyone's excuses away.  A little lip service to Israeli memes regarding incitement, when the West Bank has been non-violent and struggling to build its economy and civil institutions while blocking violent resistance for two years now, is a appropriate diplomatic posturing.  

Obama is taking the position that nothing good will come without resumption of talks and that is his top priority.  He's doing all he can to get the parties to the table.  He is rejecting Israeli maneuvers to avoid real progress through the gradualism of "interim agreements."  He wants directed negotiations on final status issues ASAP.  I support this effort and the compromises, rhetorical and otherwise, required to accomplish this goal in the current situation.

by Strummerson 2009-09-22 04:36PM | 0 recs
You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

I tagged them onto a previous diary you apparently missed.

Israel sources: Obama summit will just be a photo op

Tuesday's meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will just be a photo opportunity, sources at the prime minister's bureau have said.

"The meeting will not inaugurate [renewed] negotiations and will not involve any significant details," the sources said. "The differences on the issue of the settlements and the framework of the talks remain deep."


Aide: Netanyahu will defend settlement growth at Obama summit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will defend the expansion of West Bank settlements when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, the premier's spokesman said Monday.

"You have never heard the prime minister say he would freeze settlement building. The opposite is true," Nir Hefetz told Army Radio when asked about the tripartite summit, which will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

And Netanyahu apparently did defend the continuation of the colonization in his meeting with Obama. What does he have to lose? He has the Congress in his pocket, thanks to years of AIPAC fear mongering, and there's only one Kucinich left in the Congress. McKinney is gone and for all I know is still langishing in some Lebanese jail.

Netanyahu is also smart enough in these times to stay away from the Christian Zionists, at least until the Republicans get over the Bush era numbskulldoggery. And that might not be very long from now.

by MainStreet 2009-09-22 06:12PM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

And you seem to have missed this one:

U.S. President Barack Obama stood behind a podium in New York City on Tuesday like a strict schoolteacher scolding the two pupils sitting before him - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - as well as their ministers.

Obama explained that the resolution of the Middle East conflict is in the U.S.'s interest and that a permanent solution is a priority for the entire world. The American president compensated for having failed to immediately revive peace talks with stern remarks directed at both sides: forget history, obstacles and disagreements - sit down and get done with it.

Two major differences were apparent Tuesday between Obama's summit and those hosted by his predecessor, George W. Bush (in Aqaba in 2003 and in Annapolis in 2007). The Bush administration put an emphasis on synchronizing statements and agreements between the two sides. As soon as the summits were over, the Israelis and Palestinians were sent on their way to hold talks on their own - with American supervisors.

However, Obama does it differently. He read his statement as a command directed at the two sides, and not as a joint statement. The president is planning to lead active American mediation efforts, spearheaded by his Middle East envoy George Mitchell. The envoy's first task will be relaunching the peace talks.

In his statement, Obama explained that the Americans are not interested in suggestions raised by Israel - interim agreements which mainly benefit Netanyahu. He also made clear that Washington does not accept Abbas' refusal to enter into talks until Israel completely halts settlement construction. The President is satisfied with Netanyahu's (so far privately made) promises to limit construction, and places the resumption of peace talks at the top of his priority list.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1116 183.html

by Strummerson 2009-09-22 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

Sorry but the school teacher notion just did not come through before the cameras.

Netanyahu already pulled a fast one, and Obama conceded to it, when he stated that settlement construction will continue ala variations of such. This is Likud, not warmed over Likud, ie, Kadima, or the defunct Labor group (do they still talk about Labor in Israel?). A sovereign Palestinian state is anathema to Likud, which already nixed it via the settlement continuation, East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley positions. It is the same bullshit we have heard for the last two decades.

Who can blame the Palestinians for saying, enough is enough. Settlement continuation is equvalent to no Palestinian state, period, and they know it. It Netanyahju wins on this issue, the Palestinians lose, because it will degenerate to more teas with Olmert type negotiations, stall and stall, build and build.

by MainStreet 2009-09-22 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

You dodge the point.  Obama is prioritizing getting them to the table for directed final status talks.  You can argue that this does not serve the interests of the two state solution if you want.  And it might not work.  But it's hardly "the same old bullshit."

by Strummerson 2009-09-22 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

Stall and stall, while ir continues to build and build is the same old Israeli tactic in negotiating peace with the Palestinians we have seen in the past. It does not seem to matter whether Israel negotiates to negotiate or just negotiates, the result is the same: intransigence and the status quo.

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 03:49AM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

The question is whether you support Obama's efforts to get them to the table or not?

We both oppose settlement construction.

Neither of us is fooled by Bibi.

No reason to argue either of those points as we are in agreement.

You read Obama's tactic at the summit as a capitulation.  I read it as an attempt to take Bibi's dissimulating veto away and force him to the table where more pressure might be applied.  

If Bibi wasn't afraid of the negotiating table, he wouldn't be avoiding it in this way.  He doesn't want to be in that room.  I think that indicates there are more possibilities once we get them in that room.  They might still be vexed and slim.  But there are none in the current situation.  I have argued all along that Abbas is absolutely right to insist on the freeze in principle, but that it is a tactical mistake.  

I say, get them in that room with Mitchell.  That's what I see Obama trying to do.  I think he's right.  

This also accords with Obama's general M.O.  He always tries to outflank his opponents as opposed to break them through a stand-off.  It worked for him electorally.  We have yet to see whether this tendency produces any policy breakthroughs.  But I think it's important to recognize what he is trying to accomplish and supporting it until it is proven ineffective.  

Perhaps we have different priorities.  You seem interested in using the idea of "negotiations" as a means to attain a settlement freeze.  If this could work, it would have immediate benefit.  I do not want settlement construction to stand in the way of final status talks, because I think they offer more long-term benefit, even if construction continues in the mean time.  The PA under Abbas seems to agree with you.  Their prerogative and I think they hold the clear moral high ground here.  I don't deride Abbas for standing on those principles.  But I think it's an inferior tactic at this juncture and I think Bibi's reticence demonstrates that.  If he thought he could get what he wants at the table, he'd be rushing there.  

Unfortunately, we are stuck with an Israeli administration that needs to be pushed and shoved.  If you want to hold out for a Livni administration, which I think would be a tad better but still insufficient, I certainly understand the argument.  But at this point, neither you nor or I agree with Bibi.  Neither does Abu Mazen and neither does Obama.  The difference is that Obama and Abbas disagree on tactical priorities.  I agree with Obama and you agree with Abbas.  But all four of us support the same goal and agree about the impediments.

by Strummerson 2009-09-23 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

I don't disagree with you either.

But for Obama to pump the "terrorist" meme on behalf of Israel just does not accord with the reality, and has nothing to do with what the Palestinians are doing. It may be a subtle reference to Hamas, which is perhaps even worse because the next step in the dodge is for Israel to insist that Abbas try again to take Hamas out of Gaza, out of the picture.

Obama's reference was irksome as it accorded with the Israeli propaganda effort for the world to see it as the victim in this conflict, and the Palestinians as the unworthy aggressors, at least in America. Other countries are not buying in (see my diary on British boycotts, now extended to include Brazil).

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

Obama is maneuvering rhetorically to take away anyone's excuse.  He knows what is going on both materially and politically.  Diplomacy entails affirming the stated interests of the parties you want to maneuver.  To diminish this to "pumping a meme" is silly.  It's a maneuver.  If it produces movement, it's a good one.  It's not a matter of whether it's true or false.  You are also taking this out of the context of his entire statement.  It's purpose and framing were explicit.

by Strummerson 2009-09-23 06:25AM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

It was about what both sides must do to get the talks going. I found the requirements stated on the Palestinian side far from silly, especially since it promoted old State Department justifications for the continuation of the Israeli occupation, the twist of reality that is otherwise known as Israeli hasbara or propaganda. Both sides must do something even though everyone knows where the impasse lies. Obama had the choice of going back to the Arab countries improving relationships, but he didn't.

I posted headlines from this morning's Haaretz. Sounds to me like Obama made Netanyahu's day.

Was it in January that Obama made the Cairo speech? And here we are nine months later, and there has been no progress. Netanyahu is winning.

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 07:19AM | 0 recs
Haaretz editorial

I agree with the interpretation below and think it represents something significantly different from "the same old bullshit."

It is regrettable that so much time was wasted on the effort to create an equation under which settlement activity would be frozen in exchange for a thaw in Arab states' relations with Israel. Foot-dragging in the political process plays into the hands of the region's extremists. America's failure to restart the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue strengthens doubts about diplomacy's utility and boosts the temptation to replace it with violence. Though he did so belatedly, Obama was wise to drop his preoccupation with settlements and El Al flights over Saudi Arabia - what are known as confidence-building steps - and instead launch an effort to get negotiations going on a final-status agreement.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1116 659.html

It's imperative to remove all obstacles and get both parties into a room with Mitchell ASAP at this point.  The Netanyahu camp is banking on being able to use construction to provoke Abbas to hold out for a freeze, thus avoiding talks.  I think this indicates a recognition on Bibi's part that once he enters that room, his ability to obfuscate and avoid progress toward a final status will be compromised.  I hope Abbas reads this the same way.  

The other thing that needs to happen is for Obama to speak directly to Israelis in Jerusalem.  It should have happened months ago.  Everyone Jewish and Israeli supporter of the peace process I know is similarly perplexed.

by Strummerson 2009-09-24 05:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Haaretz editorial

Who could not agree with the last paragraph.

As for the first, Netanyahu already has a long list of red herrings, excuses to stall any future talks, until the Palestinians comply. Who doesn't know what they are?

The message to be read: stall and stall, build and build. Obama is just a temporary road block, just as Oslo was a temporary impediment in the 90s, which ended with the phony 'generous offer' and Sharon's provocations to end it all by starting the second Intifada.

People are not stupid, and they, like the Palestinians, will play along for a time. But the Palestinians have had it. No more, no more. Shit or get off the pot, and this time it applies to Obama. What's the point? Didn't Clinton and Bush go down the same road?

by MainStreet 2009-09-24 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Haaretz editorial

This is just flat out wrong.  Obama is now doing what he should have since the beginning.   He is invalidating any and all excuses not to proceed to US directed final status talks that take a full and valid two state solution as their goal.  That is radically different from Bush.  Not sure why you keep bringing Bibi's stalling tactics up as proof that Obama is the same old crap when Obama is trying to push him to the table.

Look, MS, you can argue that blue is red as much as you want.  But it's not.  No one can prove to you that blue is not red if you are committed to ignoring the difference.

I'm sure you will respond with another robo-post that protests things I also oppose as if I support them.

The difference between us at this point appears to be that I support Obama's efforts to invalidate all obstacles to final status negotiations and force the parties to the table while you do not.  It's not clear to me why you don't.

by Strummerson 2009-09-24 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Haaretz editorial

So Obama is doing something different than Clinton and Bush, is he? Nine months later, and Netanyahu has deflected every attempt to stop the colonization and get to the table. In fact, Bibi is saying to everyone: even if we go to the table, the settlements will continue and be expanded.

Latest from the International Solidarity Movement: IDF forces are scheduled to demolish 55 Palestinian homes in order to expand an Israeli settlement near Nablus. Find the link yourself. Personally tired the same old. Palestinians must stop the terrorism.

Obama is now licking Bibi's boots. Hard to believe but it has been seen before. What we need today is another Ike or a Bush I.

by MainStreet 2009-09-24 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Haaretz editorial

So Obama is doing something different than Clinton and Bush, is he?

Yes.  He is.

Nine months later, and Netanyahu has deflected every attempt to stop the colonization and get to the table.

Yes.  Bibi is Bibi.  How does this prove that Obama is Bush?

In fact, Bibi is saying to everyone: even if we go to the table, the settlements will continue and be expanded.

Uh huh.  And he is making such pronouncements to prolong Abbas's refusal, because he knows that things will be much more difficult for him if they do negotiate with Mitchell as mediator.  His whole game is to make it seem like the Palestinians are the ones refusing to move forward.  Abbas is currently playing into Bibi's hands.  He is right morally and wrong tactically.

But none of this demonstrates a similarity between Obama's and Bush's approaches.

Latest from the International Solidarity Movement: IDF forces are scheduled to demolish 55 Palestinian homes in order to expand an Israeli settlement near Nablus.

This is terrible.  but what does this have to do with Obama being Bush or Clinton?  All it demonstrates is that Bibi is Bibi.  And we know Bibi is an awful person.

Find the link yourself.

Thanks for the courtesy.  Don't need to.  This is a believable claim for which I do not require any fact checking.  Maybe there is an ambiguity about the numbers or specifics.  But we all know Bibi's game.  

Yet how does this prove a similarity between Obama and Bush?

Personally tired the same old. Palestinians must stop the terrorism.

Hmm.  Let's look at context for a second.  I know it's hard to interrupt the pleasures of a tantrum.  You should try reasoning with my kids when the have committed to screaming irrationally.  But here's the deal, Obama knows as well as we do that the PA under Abbas and Fayyed have shut down all forms of violent resistance in the West Bank.  Obama utters this because he has to appear even handed in order to push things forward, even when the playing field is far from even.  

I do not know why you refuse to look beyond his appropriate lip service to Israeli "concerns" and read it in context.  

And yes, Bush and Clinton made similar statements.  Often during periods of genuine violent Palestinian actions (and I am not making any claim here regarding their validity or otherwise, just the fact of those operations).  By the way, Obama also frequently uses terms like "liberty" and "freedom" and appeals to the "middle class" just like his predecessors.

Obama is now licking Bibi's boots. Hard to believe but it has been seen before.

Nope.  You are wrong.  Obama is trying to force Bibi to the table.  He made a tactical error earlier on by suggesting the validity of any pre-conditions to negotiating.  He is now correcting that path.  Clinton let Israel avoid final status talks during his first term and only pressed for them in the final months of his administration.  Bush didn't even try to push for progress until the end of his regime.  Obama is pushing for directed final status talks, front and center on the international stage, in the first year of his first term.  This makes his stance quite different from both WJC and W.

What we need today is another Ike or a Bush I.

Bush I forced Shamir to the table against his will.  Now Obama is indeed twisting another Likud PM's arm to force him to the table.  Bibi is slipperier than Shamir, so it's more difficult.

But if you find pissing and moaning and making unsupportable arguments, I hope you glean some pleasure from doing so.  You have made no argument to support your claim that Obama is identical to his immediate predecessors.  I have offered an actual argument highlighting differences of strategy and context.  Bibi being the same as...well...Bibi does not demonstrate a similarity between Obama and anyone else.  I recommend eating some fish.  It promotes the capacity for logical thinking.

by Strummerson 2009-09-24 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: You may have missed these Haaretz reports.

For reference sake, while you may have seen this documentary, others might not have.

Peace, Propaganda, & The Promised Land (with Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Arik Ackerman, founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, and many others)

Part I:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCL6WdnuN p4

Part II:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo2HW4T7w K4

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 07:34AM | 0 recs
An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

In January, Obama announced the most ambitious goal in the Mideast since Clinton, of finalizing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, aside from arranging some meetings for his special envoy George Mitchell, he has accomplished nothing worth mentioning on this front. Worse, he has been openly defied by the far rightwing Likud government of Binyamin Netanyahu, who has announced that he will build more housing on Palestinian land for Israeli illegal immigrants into Palestinian territory. Netanyahu can count on majority support in Congress and the Senate because of the clout of the Israel lobbies, especially AIPAC. As Stephen M. Walt pointed out in WaPo, Obama is in danger of being rendered irrelevant and helpless by Israeli intransigence, and few expect Tuesday's summit to change things. Obama should just announce that he will recognize a Palestinian state in 2011, and that the Israelis had better negotiate with the Palestinians to get a good deal from them, since they will be sovereign on a date certain whether Netanyahu likes it or not.

Recognizing a Palestinian state would of course have to be pushed through the UN, something that would be easy to do. It would also avoid Congressional (read AIPAC) interference.

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 03:54AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

I think he should announce this the day after his second inaugural.

by Strummerson 2009-09-23 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

Announcing that Israel is a sovereign state whether the Palestinians like it or not hasn't really solved the problem from the other direction, but hey, I'll try anything!

by Steve M 2009-09-23 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

Yes and no.  International consensus regarding Israel's validity as a nation state has indeed influenced a majority of Palestinians to support a two state solution, which they did not in 1948, or for that matter 1967.  It's not the only thing, but it served that goal.  The fact is that international recognition, Israel's military and economy, and the passage of time have combined to lead most Palestinians to accept Israel as a fact and to seek a way to live with it.

by Strummerson 2009-09-23 05:37AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

Yes, but the Palestinians will never forget the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of 1948, which continued after 1967 through more devious means. It is part of their history, hence, the importance to them of the UN 194 sanctioned right of return. There is not much territory left in the West Bank to accomodate 5 million refugees as it now stands, so that the problem of giving justice to the refugees remains. Return? If not to Israel, where? If not to the West Bank, where?

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

Not sure why this constitutes a response to my question.  I never asserted anything contrary to this.  My point to Steve was that official recognition does have political effects.

by Strummerson 2009-09-23 06:22AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

The problem is that recognizing a Palestinian state isn't just a symbolic act, it has foreign policy consequences that we're not prepared to follow through on (although some wish we would).  In other words, if Israel calls our bluff by continuing to give the IDF free rein in the occupied territories, what do you think we would do about it?  It's important not to say A unless you're willing to say B.

I admire Professor Cole but, in this case, he is advocating for a provocative action similar to John McCain's position that we should admit Georgia to NATO.  If we're not really prepared to act on the consequences of that position (i.e. going to war with Russia over its incursions into Georgia) then we shouldn't talk like we are.

by Steve M 2009-09-23 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: An interesting proposal by Juan Cole:

I agree with this.  I think such an action may be warranted, but in the larger scheme of things it may not be worth the electoral gamble.  If Obama's continued initiatives fail, I think he should consider this move and the commitments that you correctly argue it would entail, as an opening move of his second term.

by Strummerson 2009-09-23 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama at UN: same old ?

I think he differed sharply from GWB. The 'same old' criticism is strained, and not particularly helpful. If istory repeats itself some more in the Middle East, who would be surprised? Would that be Obama's fault? (hint: No one, No)

Which part of Obama's demands do you disagree with?

"It is past time to stop talking about starting negotiations; it is time to move forward," Mr. Obama said Tuesday after meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly's opening.

"Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon," Mr. Obama said, flanked by Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas. "So my message to these two leaders is clear: despite all the obstacles, all the history, all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward."

by QTG 2009-09-23 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama at UN: same old ?

Ambiguity is the problem and failing to remind the audience, the UN General Assembly, that the source of the stalemate is Israel's desire to continue the occupation/colonization, the two things which are PRESENTLY the impediments to a peace proposal. Continuing settlement building is just a statement from Israel that it has no intents of withdrawing from any settlements in the West Bank in order to permit a Palestinian state to emerge. To the contrary, it is a policy that repeats the old Likud position: no Palestinian state.

You didn't really believe Netanyahu, did you, when he voiced the words Palestinian state? Just before and afterwards, he also voiced all of the conditions that are contrary to such a state. NO East Jerusalem, no Jordan Valley, no sovereignty such as free air space or borders, no this and no that.

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama at UN: same old ?

You make a strong argument for Netanyahu being the same old, same old. You certainly don't argue that the situation over there is anything but the same old, same VERY old, do you?

Obama has said just about as much as he can say, as forcflly as it can be said. I think he's in for a shit-storm of blowback from the religious and otherwise anti-UN Right Wing as it is.

It would be very hard to lower expectations for Middle East Peace, but completely FAIL to blame it on Obama.

by QTG 2009-09-23 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama at UN: same old ?

Well, given the strong right movement of the Israeli public recently and the disintegration of the left wing, one could argue that Israel has indeed become VERY OLD SAME OLD.

by MainStreet 2009-09-23 04:19PM | 0 recs


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