The latest Palestinian trap for Israel....
A New York Times front-pager breathlessly urges Israel to quickly make a fresh peace offer to the Palestinians before they get a unilateral endorsement of statehood from the UN, making Israel an illegal aggressor - occupier of not only the West Bank but also the misnamed East Jerusalem, thus forcing Israel to withdraw to the 1949 ceasefire Green Line--without the Palestinians making any concessions at all.
Left Unanswered: Why should Palestinians accept a peace offer from Israel requiring concessions from the Palestinians, if the UN General Assembly this September will give them what they want--the US cannot veto GA resolutions--without them having to make any concessions?
Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary Blog that President Obama's anti-Israel policies have encouraged the Palestinians to go the UN route, and that the Palestinian power play can be met:
First, if there was any doubt at all that the Palestinians have ever negotiated in good faith during the last 18 years of peace talks with Israel, it is gone. They refused an offer of a state in the West Bank, Gaza, and part of Jerusalem in 2000, 2001, and 2008, and they will keep on saying No in the hope of getting even more—and perhaps ending Israel’s independent existence—by other means.
The second is that while Obama may be something of a spectator to the latest turn of events, he remains one of its authors, although an unwitting one. By beginning his administration with unprecedented pressure on Israel to give up settlements rather than on the Palestinians to talk, he set in motion the train of events which led to this point. Obama’s decision to treat existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem as no different from the most remote West Bank settlement didn’t, as he hoped, encourage the Palestinians to negotiate, but prompted them to dig in and avoid talking altogether. Obama’s disdain for Netanyahu convinced the Palestinians that they could get the EU and Russia to back their plan to bypass direct negotiations and impose a UN dictat on Israel.
Third ... the United States is not helpless to stop this strategy. Rather than threatening Israel to buckle under and accept draconian concessions, as Obama appears to be considering doing in the upcoming months, Washington could start putting serious pressure on the PA at last. Abbas depends on foreign aid to keep his corrupt authority in place and on Western and Israeli military aid and protection to prevent a Hamas coup d’état in the West Bank. Were Obama to make it clear that the United States will not tolerate an initiative that disregards our interests then it is more than possible that Abbas’s bluff would be called. Perhaps then this looming catastrophe, which will do nothing to pave the way to peace, can be averted.
Elliott Abrams suggests how Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu should meet rising diplomatic pressure behind the Palestinians. He notes that the US likely is behind the Quartet (US, EU, UN, Russia) considering issuing its own declaration versus Israel, adding momentum to the UN play. Abrams thinks that such an action, or any political union between the Palestinian Authority & Hamas, will rouse the US to stop this stuff. He adds that Israel acts boldly only when it is confident of strong US support--Ariel Sharon vacating Gaza because George W. Bush gave multiple assurances--no Palestinian right of return, no return to the Green Line--since tossed on history's ash-heap by Obama. Abrams proposes these steps:
If Israelis are convinced they must separate from Palestinians, who should “govern themselves in their own state,” they should begin to change the pattern of their presence in the West Bank. There is a wide consensus in Israel that separation from the Palestinians is right, and safer, and in Israel’s long-run interest: Since the second intifada the dream of living together in peace has been dead, but the goal of living apart in peace is not. Yet current Israeli policy treats separation as a prize the Palestinians must win through concessions at the negotiating table, as if it were in the Palestinians’ interest but not Israel’s. That is a self-defeating stance, incurring growing penalties in international isolation and condemnation while moving Israel no closer to its desired goal. Israel should start to disentangle itself from governing the West Bank and the Arabs who live in it, and if this cannot be achieved through negotiations with the Palestinians it should be achieved through Israeli-designed unilateral steps that maximize Israeli security interests. One example: passage in the Knesset of a compensation law buying the home of any settler who wishes voluntarily to move back behind the security fence, whether to Green Line Israel or a major settlement. Another: turning additional areas within the West Bank over to the PA for normal daily governance. Such moves, which signal an intention to change the ultimate pattern of Israeli settlement in the West Bank, do not require abandoning the IDF’s security role there. Nor do they require or accept a total settlement freeze, which would be counterproductive: Whatever the wisdom of a freeze in outlying settlements that will eventually become part of Palestine, to freeze construction in the major blocs that will remain parts of Israel is to send exactly the wrong message.
Israeli officials should explain the policy to the Obama administration and the Europeans (among whom some consequential leaders, like German chancellor Angela Merkel, are still friendly to Israel): It looks like final status negotiations are not on, and anyway they may take forever or may fail. So Israel will act, trying to shape a better future for itself without harming the Palestinians. We won’t wait for them, but nothing we are doing closes off possibilities for future agreements. In fact, reaching those agreements will become easier over time, not harder, if Israel begins to act now. Israel should use as its set of principles the Bush letter of April 14, 2004, in essence demanding that the United States adhere to pledges made about the key issues. No “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees” except to the new state of Palestine; secure and defensible borders for Israel; no full return to the 1949 lines, given the new realities on the ground; final borders to be mutually agreed; Israel as a Jewish democratic state. But Netanyahu will have to act as well as speak, telling both Israelis and foreigners what he will do to begin to shape an outcome where there are no Israelis in over 90 percent of the West Bank. He can maximize the ability of Israel’s friends and supporters, not least in this country, to support Israel if he acts with boldness and principle to guarantee the future safety of the Jewish state.
Netanyahu will also need to explain that when acts of terror emerge from the West Bank they will evoke the air and land responses needed to keep Israel safe and keep those territories from terrorist control. In the long run, it is difficult to see a secure Palestine without some link to Jordan, though it may take years to emerge. Whether that is in the end a “dual monarchy” arrangement—one king, two parliaments, two prime ministers, with the formal creation of a Jordanian-Palestinian entity—or a security deal allowing for a significant Jordanian role in trilateral security arrangements among Palestine, Israel, and the Hashemite Kingdom, remains to be seen, but no such options should be discarded.
Netanyahu, who quit his position of finance minister under Ariel Sharon when Sharon began the disengagement from Gaza, now finds himself in a remarkably similar spot. In addition to the coalition troubles he faces, he has a very tough political problem within Likud. Moreover, he must face the settler lobby and decide whether to challenge it now. He should, for at bottom he has a message that the vast majority of Israelis and indeed the vast majority of settlers accept: that the security of the State of Israel is paramount. Zionism aims at a Jewish democratic state, which in turn requires a territory where Jews are the majority. That was the logic of partition in 1948, and it remains the logic behind separation from the West Bank and the 2.5 million Palestinians who live there. Zionism also taught self-reliance, acting to create facts rather than relying on luck or fate or someone else’s benevolence to do the job.
His underlying principle: maximum Israeli separation from the Palestinians.
What will President Obama do? Presumably, a UN resolution forcing Israelis to vacate East Jerusalem would ignite Jewish voter sentiment, making them for the first time press Obama over protesting Israel. But it is hardly likely that the liberal Jewish vote will desert their paladin for the GOP in 2012, so The One has a free hand.
On the semi-plus side, UN rapporteur Richard Goldstone retracted his grotesque blood libel accusing Israel of intentionally targeting civilians during the 2008 - 2009 Gaza War. But this Jerusalem Post report shows that Goldstone's retraction, as presented in the US, is itself mendacious, leaving out many of his sins.
Bottom Line. The Arab Spring is underway, with results up in the air but hardly likely to be favorable to the US. Iran marches onward towards nuclear status. Our community organizer in the West Wing flounders his way through a not-really-war in Libya. So the world prepares, with apparent US acquiescence, to mount yet another diplomatic offensive against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, who as ever refuse to make any real concessions to win a peace accord.
It is all enough to make one emigrate to Mars.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, 9/11, National Security, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Conservative Politics