Obama shafts our top Mideast ally....
In an interview before his Monday meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Obama warned that Israel faces global ostracism if it fails to make more concessions to the Palestinians, as noted by John Podhoretz at Commentary Blog (link above). JP shreds the president's illusions about Palestinian attitudes:
The Palestinians, in Obama’s view, do not actually need to make changes; astonishingly, he says, they’re ready for peace. “The Palestinians,” the president says, overlooking every piece of polling data we have about the opinions of the Palestinians, “would still prefer peace. They would still prefer a country of their own that allows them to find a job, send their kids to school, travel overseas, go back and forth to work without feeling as if they are restricted or constrained as a people. And they recognize that Israel is not going anywhere.”
Ah. So that 2011 poll that says 60 percent of the Palestinians reject a two-state solution is bunk—a poll whose findings have not been contradicted since. If Palestinians refuse to accept a two-state solution, they do not “recognize that Israel is not going anywhere.” Rather, they are still engaging in a pseudo-national fantasy about Israel’s disappearance or destruction. And they are so eager for peace and coexistence with Israel that they remain the only significant Muslim population that still has a favorable view of suicide bombings, according to a Pew survey.
“The voices for peace within the Palestinian community will be stronger with a framework agreement,” the president says. But why would the “voices for peace” need to be “stronger” if they reflect the actual views of the Palestinian people? They should be more than strong enough on their own now. Indeed, if they are so strong, we would not be hearing repeated denunciations of the “framework” process from Palestinian negotiators.
JP notes that in 2008 Palestinians flatly rejected an Israeli offer that would have given them 92 to 95 percent of the West Bank (with "land swaps"--reciprocal surrender of land inside Israel's 1967 Green Line--to "compensate" Palestinians for the 5 to 8 percent Israel would retain).
Also at Commentary Blog, Evelyn Gordon shreds Team Obama's "settlements" falsehoods. Specifically, the record shows this:
According to Obama, “we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time.” But in reality, as a simple glance at the annual data published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reveals, there has been less settlement construction during Benjamin Netanyahu’s five years as Israeli premier (2009-13) than under any of his recent predecessors.
During those five years, housing starts in the settlements averaged 1,443 a year (all data is from the charts here, here and here plus this news report). That’s less than the 1,702 a year they averaged under Ehud Olmert in 2006-08, who is nevertheless internationally acclaimed as a peacemaker (having made the Palestinians an offer so generous that then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice couldn’t believe she was hearing it). It’s also less than the 1,652 per year they averaged under Ariel Sharon in 2001-05, who is similarly lauded internationally as a peacemaker (for having left Gaza); the fact that even Sharon out-built Netanyahu is particularly remarkable, because his term coincided with the second intifada, when demand for housing in the settlements plummeted. And it’s far less than under Ehud Barak, who is also internationally acclaimed as a peacemaker (for his generous offer at Camp David in 2000): one single year under Barak, 2000, produced more housing starts in the settlements (4,683) than the entire first four years of Netanyahu’s term (4,679).
It’s true that settlement construction more than doubled last year; otherwise, Netanyahu’s average would have been even lower. But it doubled from such a low base that the absolute number of housing starts, 2,534, is not only far less than Barak’s record one-year high; it’s only slightly larger than the 1995 total of 2,430 – when the prime minister was Yitzhak Rabin, signatory of the Oslo Accords and patron saint of the peace process. In previous years, housing starts under Netanyahu were only a third to a half of those in 1995.
Takeaways: (1) Bibi's annual average total is 13 percent lower than that of Ariel Sharon, lauded as peacemaker; (2) Bibi's first four years saw a tad fewer total settlements built than were built under that celebrated warrior turned peacemaker, Ehud Barak, compiled in 2000 (4,679 v. 4,683); (3) Bibi's 2013 number, his highest (2,534) is only slightly higher than the number for Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 (2,430).
Imagine: as Russia invades Ukraine, Obama pressures Israel to stop targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.
To his credit, Netanyahu (correctly) blamed Palestinian obstinacy in response to that interview with President Obama. Both of these remarks came prior to Monday's WH meeting. Jonathan Tobin at CBlog sees Obama's tilt killing prospects for peace: Palestinians will await more concessions; and the real pressure for peace in Israel comes form the public, not a distant, hostile American president.
Last week's WH meeting was a Kabuki dance replay of US & Israeli positions. Wisely, Netanyahu simply ignored the president's Israel-bashing, sensing, Jonathan Tobin writes at Commentary Blog, that his position as Israeli PM is far more secure than is Obama's as president.
Bottom Line. Israel faces three more grim years of resisting intense Team Obama pressure to make more concessions to the Palestinians, while Palestinian intransigence is unpunished.
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