Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Rumors Building Up About A New Obama Peace Push

Posted in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East and North Africa by Dan on April 21, 2010

Boy do I love rumors.  And if there is anything I love more than rumors, its rumors that originate inside Washington, which usually has the effect of spreading around town and taking on a life of their own once newspapers get a hold of them.

Such is the case with a rumor now circulating in the Beltway that President Barack Obama is working feverously on a new Middle East peace plan.  And God knows that we need it…the process has been stalled for the past decade.

Israel’s policy of unconditional settlement building, along with Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to even sit down with the Israelis, has made peace some sort of alien concept for the past ten years.  The United States hasn’t helped the situation either, partly due to its taken-for-granted support of Israel and partly due to President Obama’s inability to take provocative steps (like sanctions and termination of the American aid pipeline) to get talks started.

So for obvious reasons, an American-imposed peace plan is generating a lot of excitement in the blogosphere…and on the twitter feeds for that manner.  But we should be cautious that such a move is actually taking place within the White House, because let’s face it, the administration hasn’t been all that united on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to begin with.  Dennis Ross, Obama’s chief Mideast Policy advisor, is staunchly pro-Israeli (so much so that some people are starting to question whether he is more sympathetic to Israel than the United States), while VP Joe Biden is probably still hot under the collar over his embarrassing trip to Israel last month.  And of course there’s George Mitchell, who is the administration’s point man on current negotiations (or lack thereof) and who seems to be enduring a level of frustration that even a patient diplomat like himself cannot bear.

Is this supposed peace plan actually a real thing?  Well, yes and no.

From what I’ve heard so far, it looks as if the Obama administration is going to wait a little longer before they decide to implement an American-led peace push. Some officials in the administration, particularly those involved in U.S. Middle East policy, are saying that the President’s main priority is still getting “proximity talks” forward, which would probably be a dismal failure anyway. Of course, I take everything that the White House says with a grain of salt, because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of those issues that can create deep schisms between high-ranking administration officials. Actually, it seems like this is occurring already, with Envoy George Mitchell calling an American plan “premature.”

Whatever the administration decides to do, I hope they wait for the proximity talks to fail first. You can only use the most important tool at your disposal after all others are exhausted, and a unilateral peace plan by the United States is the sharpest tool the country has.  Doing it now, just as Mitchell and Clinton are trying to get indirect talks back on the table, simply doesn’t make sense.

Patience is the key here. Look what happened when the President rushed earlier on in the process…he got rebuffed and humiliated by Benjamin Netanyahu over settlements, and lost a whole lot of credibility with Arabs at the same time.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of Marc Lynch at FP.com**

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7 Responses

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  1. Arvay said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Although I suspect that the Israeli right, currently in charge, can be counted on to sink any reasonable change that a gradualist approach will work. More settlements, maybe more incursions into Gaza, more provocations such as the “heritage” sites being pushed. Like Hamas in Gaza, the Israeli right enjoys the support of its people, the Israeli left seems to be finished as a political force.

    I think that eventually the US may try to impose a two-state solution, but I’m not optimistic it will work. Many elements in the Israel government and armed forces are not rational, and may prefer some kind of Masada end game. Will American troops put down insurrections in the IDF? I doubt it.

    The only thing that looks certain to me is that the Zionist venture is doomed. One way or another, it’s going to go away — either via a catastrophic war or a slow leak as people, reluctant to live in a war zone and, more to the point, see their children inherit the hatred of their neighbors, emigrate to safer places. There’s a guy just like that in my neighborhood, he has two very talented children with wonderful prospects in the US who’s not fanatical about his religion and wants them to realize their potential rather than face endless tension and conflict.

    • LiberalArtSkid said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm

      ” Many elements in the Israel government and armed forces are not rational, and may prefer some kind of Masada end game.”

      Oh how woefully misinformed you are. And the cute thing is, you don’t even know it!

  2. GHJ said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    When Bibi was in the U.S., the President’s behavior was as pre-planned as the Palestinian Authority’s 2000 Intefada, which was assumed to have been triggered by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount before the Jewish New Year. Upon investigation, it was discovered that plans for the Intefada had actually begun the previous summer.

    • J Thomas said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:25 pm

      It’s proper for Obama to have contingency plans to respond to circumstances, of course.

      But you seem to be implying that Obama was following a plan that could not be influenced by Netanyahu. It’s an interesting assertion, but why would anybody believe it?

      Similarly with Palestinian contingency plans.

      And Israeli plans. The Israelis had begun planning their latest invasion of Lebanon long before the minor incident which triggered it. While the planning for the attack had begun more than a year earlier, isn’t it likely that if Hisbollah had done nothing whatsoever, that the attack might have been postponed until some incident occurred that it could be declared to be retaliation for?

  3. Budahh said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    There can be no peace with Hamas as long as they don’t renounce terror and violence, I don’t care if they except Israel as a jewish state or not, just as long as they recodnize our right to live in peace.
    Did anybody here read the Hamas charter?, they have control of a big part of the palestinian population and they were elected to government by the people,
    If you guys are talking about peace with the west bank then maybe possible Gaza, no way right now unless something changes dramatically.
    All these theoretical talks about pressure on parties and peace are meaningless as long as we have terror organizations no one In Israel will agree to anyhting,
    Maybe Obama should pressure the Hamas if he could, pressure syria to stop supporting them, pressure Egypt to stop the smuggling, pressure the palestinians to stop incitment and naming stuff after terrorists.
    Lets make peace between the palestinians then talk about peace with Israelis

    • Nicholas Wibberley said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      Relentless and dehumanising pressure on the Palestinians in Gaza is the source of Hamas’ support. You are depriving people of sustenance and then blaming them for being skinny.

      • Budahh said, on April 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm

        That is obviously the reason why the Hamas was created and that is why they like to kill innocents, you are missing the point buddy.
        They were acting the same way before the “blockade” and they are acting the same way now. They are shallow murderars and however many excuses you can try to make for them is not going to change that.


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