Obama & Palestinians, ever inept re Israel....
Here is Rice's UN-vote interview at the State Department in which she says this of the settlements:
AMBASSADOR RICE: The United States has not characterized settlement activity as illegal since, I believe, 1980. And – but what we do believe firmly and have reiterated forcefully, including today, is that continued settlement activity is not legitimate. It’s corrosive to the peace process. It poses obstacles to achieving the goal that we think is vitally important of a two-state solution. And we were very clear that we have – we are in unity with the rest of the Security Council on the issue of the illegitimacy of settlements. The difficulty from our point of view is that a resolution on that issue at this time, which was unbalanced and one-sided, was most likely to harden positions and leave the two parties more entrenched and less willing to return promptly and constructively to the only vehicle that can achieve the goal of a two-state solution, and that’s direct negotiations.
Now, her impromptu tirade at the UN, as she cast a veto of a Palestinian-sponsored draft Security Council draft resolution branding the settlements as being "illegal"--herewith her money paragraph:
Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.
Assessing administration motivations is often difficult. But motivation presumes a coherent policy, to my perspective utterly absent here. Set aside after brief mention that the Latin roots of illegal & illegitimate are common: legis or leges, meaning read, underlies both words--lex legis is to read law, as in a statute, from which we get "legislate" and other forms of the word.
A formulation of "unwise" would have allowed the administration to escape this verbal tangle, while accomplishing most of its purpose: opposing settlements. Damning settlements as "illegitimate" is the functional equivalent of calling them illegal. There is, I think, no serious question but that Rice, Hillary & Obama all think they are illegal. But saying so would cause an even bigger uproar in Israel, which the administration does not want with the Mideast aflame.
The administration seems to think that annoying the Palestinians (by vetoing the draft resolution) and Israel (by calling settlements illegitimate) places it in "honest broker" mode to push through further negotiations. But undermining an ally publicly only emboldens our enemies. Palestinian intransigence can only increase. Here at Commentary Blog is Rick Richman's "Another Peace Process Trifecta" take--how Obama's minions alienated both sides plus made us look like fools.
If there is one consolation in all this, it is that Palestinian intransigence will doom Obama's efforts to shove Israel into a foolish peace deal, one that Palestinians would decline to honor, as they have always failed to honor their commitments. The Palestinians would have gotten 95 percent of what they wanted simply by removing the word "illegal" from the draft resolution. Better still, had they understood that "illegitimate" has the same Latin root, they could have substituted the word and likely gotten the administration to suspend its veto. They then would have gotten 99-44/100s percent of what they wanted from the UN & the US.
But, as the late Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban said a generation ago, the Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." So you have an administration that is feckless and incoherent, and a Palestinian leadership that is coherently dumb. Jonathan Tobin at Commentary Blog assesses the veto's impact upon perception of Obama's view of Israel. He concludes (rightly) that it is hard to sqaure the veto with a feeling on O's part of friendship towards Israel.
And this combination is supposed to produce Arab-Israeli peace? Oh, and BTW, here is why Israel is uniquely America's only reliable Mideast ally.
Bottom Line. The Arab-Israeli peace process is dead. The Arabs know it. The Israelis know it. Only inveterate peace processors in the US of A--not just in this administration, but in prior ones too--do not know this. "Peace process" in the Mideast is deeply embedded in America's foreign policy DNA. Expect more "peace process" farce in the future.
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