Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

What To Expect On July 6

Now that the Independence Day Holiday is over with, the White House is back to business as usual.  The first item on the agenda is a major diplomatic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 6; a meeting that will hopefully go much better than the previous two this year (one resulted in an embarrassing moment for Obama on Israeli settlements, and the other added to an already frosty relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv).  What a way to get back to reality.

As usual, pundits and talking-heads across the political spectrum are gearing up for the meeting and speculating about what the final result between the two men will be.  So naturally, I have to add my two cents in, although I’m neither a pundit or a talking-head…just a loud mouthed and opinionated blogger.

Nothing substantial can happen in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unless the United States and Israel get on the same page on the most basic requirements for peace.  Administration officials are acutely aware of this, so tomorrow’s diplomatic event will probably spend most of its time and energy on bridging these policy gaps, or at least portraying to the world that the U.S. and Israel are working towards the same goal.

Washington’s demands towards Israel and the Palestinians are still the same as they have ever been.  With respect to Israel, the United States wants Netanyahu to cease illegal settlement building in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and review his Gaza policy, which has created a devastating humanitarian crisis for over one million Palestinians.  Mahmoud Abbas’ job is to put an end to Palestinian incitement in his area of control (the West Bank).  But to the dismay of many and to the surprise of none, all of these requirements are still unmet, for a number of specific reasons.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is afraid of taking the first big steps for peace, out of fear that his right-wing political allies would stab him in the back and facture his governing coalition. On the other side, Mahmoud Abbas has been powerless to eliminate the old Palestinian mindset of rejectionism in the West Bank.  But this is not entirely his fault; there is still a large cadre of 20th century Palestinians in the P.A. that are suspicious of whatever Israel decides to do.

To think that a single meeting in Washington with the Israeli Prime Minister will solve any of these problems is a façade.  In fact, it will be surprising if the Obama-Netanyahu meeting has any lasting effect on the conflict at all.

The funny thing is that Obama and Netanyahu understand this, so the July 6 event at the White House should perhaps be seen more as a P.R. stunt than the start of a new determination on Mideast peace.

My prediction: 1) the meeting will go well, both men will hold a joint press conference reiterating their friendship and their desire to end the conflict, and neoconservatives will end up blasting President Obama for not supporting the Israelis unconditionally. 2) Israel’s settlement policy will stay the same, but Netanyahu will end of scrapping some really big projects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank to show Obama he’s trying to act like a responsible partner. And 3) the Arab League will re-endorse the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

In other words, more of the same.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of Matthew Duss and David Halperin at FP.com**


9 Responses

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  1. IPPON said, on July 5, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Can Obama ask leader of our best ally, whom we give billions of dollars every year, can he ask Nethanyahu, why is there not a single Israeli soldier fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. US forces can get some relief and Israeli soldiers will get valuable experience. After all they can learn only as much, hidden in their tanks, merrily shooting Palestinian children throwing rocks.

    Can he also ask him, why did Nathanyahu lie to him that there will be settlement freeze? As Israeli newspapers reported last week it never was.

    Can he ask Nethanyahu why israel never conducted an impartial investigation for brutal killings of Rachel Corrie and the american peace activist on the freedom flotilla.
    Can he ask Netahanyahu why Israel cannot stop illegal expansion and stop building a few houses, so that as General Petraeus and Joe Biden said less of our soldiers die in Iraq and afghanistan as it helps to tame the anti American sentiment.

    Can he ask while there were rallies in US and Israel and all over the Europe for Girad Shalit but not a single voice for thousands of US soldiers killed and wounded. Do Israelis and their supporters only see suffering of their own?

    • Litz said, on July 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm

      why don’t we stick to the facts for once, ippon. israel receives $2.4 billion a year. egypt receives $1.7 billion a year in foreign aid. how come you’re not asking where are the egyptian soldiers in iraq? many other countries receive foreign aid from the US, yet i don’t see you asking about the jordanian, pakistani or columbian soldiers’ role in iraq.
      ippon’s hypocrisy at its best.
      israel has, is and will continue to teach the americans how to fight terror. here’s just one example:
      ippon’s deceit at its best.
      israel did conduct an investigation about rachel corrie’s death. whether you decide it was impartial or not – is not really relevant to anybody, except for you. here’s an important conclusion you don’t have to be a genius to come up with: if you see a bus passing by, don’t jump in front of it. the same applies to bulldozers too. now why don’t you point your accusations to ISM staff, who lied about pictures they published of the incident? or to rachel’s friends who all gave different descriptions of the incident?
      again, ippon’s hypocrisy at its best.

      • Frankier said, on July 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm

        Has it ever occurred to you that the US “aids” (bribes would be more accurate) Egypt and Jordan to keep them from being hostile to Israel. The total cost, including the bogus Iraq war, is $13.4 billion. If you then want to include Af-Pak add another $6.8B for a grand total of $20.2B. All of this to keep Israel “safe”, i.e., to enable Israel to stay away from a solution workable to all the parties involved in the issue. That is 92% (counting AfPak) of the military aid the US provide worldwide.
        Country Total Non-military Military
        Egypt 1,972 671 1,301
        Iraq 8,193 4,050 4,143
        Israel 2,508 168 2,340
        Jordan 560 349 211
        West Bank/Gaza 165 165 –
        Afghanistan 5,816 2,174 3,642
        Pakistan 977 665 312

      • anan said, on July 6, 2010 at 3:52 am

        Iraq neither wants nor needs trainers from its lovely Arab neighbors. The IA [Iraqi Army] is rapidly becoming the highest quality army in the Arab world. Why would Iraqis want their lovely Arab brothers to mess it up? Iraqis haven’t yet forgotten about the Arabs trying to mass murder the Iraqi Army 2003-2007.

        On the other hand, hopefully the Iraqi Army will send trainers to train other armies. Israel could learn more than a few lessons from the Iraqi Army.

        IPPON, I have asked Israel’s friends [who are far more emotional and less rational than actual Israelis] why Israel hasn’t contributed to ISAF in Afghanistan. They often respond with anger.

        After all, the following muslim majority countries have security forces in Afghanistan:
        -Malaysia [might only be civilian reconstruction workers]
        -Saudi Arabia

        There are reports that at long last Pakistan’s offer to train the ANSF has been partly accepted by the Afghans. Pakistani forces might join the above list. [Hope Pakistan does formally join NTM-A, because that opens the way for India to join NTM-A as well. India would likely make a very substantial contribution.]

        Why again is Israel free riding in Afghanistan? If Israel refuses to put up for Afghanistan, can they at least do right by the Palestinians to appease the muslim countries that “ARE” putting up for the Afghans?

        Frankier, your numbers are highly misleading. First off they are out of date. Aid to Iraq is being phased out. Secondly, the war with global Takfiri wackos has little to do with Israel.

        Several muslim country contributions to Afghanistan are very substantial. They are most definitely not doing it for “Israel.”

  2. TransTrist said, on July 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Why would Netanyahu take advice of the same leftist groupthink-tanks that told Obama to try to depose him and his coalition in the first place? Authors’ opinion notwithstanding, Israelis blame Obama, not Netanyahu, for the crisis in bilateral relationship, Netanyahu’s position in polls is at its peak, and he knows full well that he’s already reached the limits of possible concessions. Personally, I wouldn’t expect great success.

  3. Arvay said, on July 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    American public support for Israel is wide but very shallow, largely because the issues are not correctly explained in the media. Ask the Americans again if Israeli actions send the price of oil into the stratosphere.

    And the arrogant Israeli action was very public and drew an appropriate public response. Even many of israel’s American supporters reacted with anger to the action, realizing how alienating this kind of purposeful insult can be.

    “. . . something that US should just gloss over. ” AA settlement policy that is contrary to long-standing US policy. Personally. I’d rather “gloss over” all those expressions of eternal support for Israel and pull the plug.

    Well, the Americans are in the process of deciding how much nonsense they are willing to accept from a “friend.” Our increasingly vocal military sees Israel as an albatross, and Petraeus has linked support for Israel to dead American soldiers.

    The overwhelming opinion of the Americans, through numerous wars, remains — isolationism. That’s both wide and deep. They are tired of being manipulated by beggar nations, insolent in their arrogance.

  4. World Wide News Flash said, on July 6, 2010 at 2:16 am

    What To Expect On July 6…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  5. Jack said, on July 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    There will be no peace aslong israel is warmongering and not following the 230 UN security resolutions. Peace couldnt be build only what one side, namely israel, wants. It has to adress to palestinian views too. Also aslong as israel is warmongering against Iran, Jordan and Syria as of today, there will never be peace in the middle east. I guess israel doesnt want peace, just remember who took you to war with Saddam.
    AIPAC need to loose its brutal influence on congress.

    • Dan said, on July 12, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      There is no question that Israeli influence over the U.S. Congress is a major problem. Of course, part of AIPAC’s influence is money; lawmakers receive millions of dollars in campaign contributions through the Israeli lobby every single year. But I suspect that a much bigger problem on Capital Hill today is the worry that any criticism of Israeli policies (whether it concerns the Gaza blockade, settlement building, or the eviction of Palestinian families and the demolition of Palestinian homes) with respect to the Palestinians is the equivalent of career suicide. I would be curious to see how many lawmakers would voice their concerns out in the open if AIPAC and other right-wing Israeli lobbies were a little less powerful. But that’s for another day.

      The real issue at hand is P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu’s inability or unwillingness to endorse anything that would get the peace talks going. The easing of the embargo is certainly a step in the right direction, but it still falls short in several respects. Reconstruction material is stalled for fear that Hamas would use cement for rocket launchers, and Gazans still cannot export their products overseas. And as far as the settlements…well…Israelis are still building them on private Palestinian land.

      Something that Netanyahu could do to build confidence in the entire process is cede more control of the West Bank to Palestinian security forces, who are already doing a great job at imposing law and order in major cities. This move would prove to the P.A. that Israel is indeed serious about a long term peace, and it would provide Mahmoud Abbas with some political breathing. The more comfortable Abbas is politically, the more likely he will take more risks.

      Or, the Israeli Government could promise the Palestinian delegation that final status issues will be up for discussion in the event of direct peace talks.

      If those steps aren’t taken, then it’s difficult to see how an independent Palestinian state can be formed by 2012. That, and it would put another dent in President Obama’s Mideast team. Failing two times in a single term is not what the President wants come election time.

      Thank you for your comment and check back in soon!

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