Smart diplomacy today: Humiliate Netanyahu
The other day Charles Krauthammer remarked that
We have already had a year delay in talks because of Obama interjecting the settlement issue in the first place.
Remember, for 17 years the Palestinians and Israelis negotiated, ever since Oslo, directly in the absence of a freeze in settlements. Palestinians never demanded it as a precondition.
In comes Obama, and he demands a freeze of settlements. The Israelis say, why should we make preemptive concessions in advance? Palestinians haven’t made any. And the Palestinians answer and say, “Well, if the Americans are demanding a settlement freeze, we are going to demand it as well. And in fact, we won’t even speak with the Israelis until there is a settlement freeze.”
This is absurd. That’s why we have had a year of the Palestinians essentially in a boycott of these negotiations.
So, then, Netanyahu works out a fig leaf, a compromise in which he agrees to a ten-month moratorium outside of Jerusalem for a freeze. And then all of a sudden Obama re-imposes a new condition now of a freeze in Jerusalem, which no Israeli government will ever accept.
Jerusalem is the Israeli capital. Everybody understands that in a [final peace] settlement, these neighborhoods of east Jerusalem — the ones that we are speaking about and where the construction is occurring, as well as the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem — are going to be in the Jewish state under any understanding or settlement.
For example, in the Clinton parameters of the negotiations a decade ago [at Camp David], they would be incorporated into Israel.
So, no Israeli is going to accept a preemptive concession that Jews can’t live in this area of east Jerusalem. So unless Obama changes position, talks again are at a standstill because of a blunder on the part of this administration.
You would think that’s asinine enough.
Following that, Obama came up with yet another masterful stroke of “smart diplomacy”:
Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated after Barack Obama ‘dumped him for dinner’
For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.
After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.
“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.
Left to talk among themselves Mr Netanyahu and his aides retreated to the Roosevelt Room. He spent a further half-hour with Mr Obama and extended his stay for a day of emergency talks to try to restart peace negotiations. However, he left last night with no official statement from either side.
The Petulant President could not be bothered to listen to the Visiting Prime Minister:
Newspaper reports recounted how Mr Netanyahu looked “excessively concerned and upset” when he pulled out a flow chart to show Mr Obama how Jerusalem planning permission worked and how he could not have known that the announcement that hundreds more homes were to be built would be made when Mr Biden arrived in Jerusalem.
Mr Obama then suggested that Mr Netanyahu and his staff stay at the White House to consider his proposals so that if he changed his mind he could inform the President right away. “I’m still around,” the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot quoted Mr Obama as saying. “Let me know if there is anything new.”
And no DVDs for you, Bibi.
Pundette links to Jennifer Rubin, who believes Obama’s Humiliation of Israel May Only Be Getting Started (emphasis added)
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Obama wants an answer to his demands by Saturday so he can then present them to a meeting of the Arab League going on in Libya so that ineffectual body can endorse the so-called proximity talks in which the Palestinian Authority refuses to directly negotiate with Israel.
Yup. You read it right.
Until Saturday. You know the Sabbath,
to answer an unspecified set of demands that will allow Washington to go to the Arab League and receive that organization’s backing for ‘proximity talks’ so that maybe the Palestinian Authority may someday, sometime decide to negotiate with Israel.
But back to Rubin,
All of which points to the fact that the crisis between Israel and the United States, which many observers had thought was blowing over in the wake of the trumped-up controversy over the announcement of a Jerusalem housing project during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, is far from concluded. In fact, it appears that Obama is just getting started.
What does the president hope to achieve? Having asked and gotten a building freeze in the West Bank from Netanyahu last year, the Palestinians still won’t sit and talk peace directly with Israel. Why should they when every time Israel makes a concession, the Arabs can now count on Obama demanding more, even to the point of making an issue of something like building in existing Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, which had never previously been a sticking point for the Americans. Since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has already rejected an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and part of Jerusalem as recently as late 2008, does Obama think Netanyahu — or any Israeli leader — can offer more? Does he truly believe that for the first time in their history, the Palestinians will take “yes” — since Netanyahu has also already agreed to the principle of a two-state solution — for an answer?
Perhaps, the 13-point ultimatum is just another attempt to topple Netanyahu’s coalition. But there is no reason to believe that Netanyahu’s partners — and the vast majority of the Israeli people — will not support him, especially when the issue at stake is the unity of Jerusalem. It is unlikely that Israelis will clamor for surrender to Washington in light of the fact that the man making these demands is an American president whom they rightly regard as hostile to their nation. But after Israel says “no” to Obama, does Obama dare escalate his diplomatic offensive against Israel further, even as his administration’s efforts to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability appear stalled? Obama has nothing to gain in continuing on this path, but then again, there was no point in starting this ruckus and choosing to humiliate the only democracy in the Middle East in the first place. Is Obama capable of stopping before this train wreck of a policy creates even more mischief in the region, as well as for Democrats seeking Jewish support this year?
Paul Mirengoff doesn’t think Obama can influence the Israeli public,
Thus, the Haaretz poll actually confirms that Obama lacks the standing with Israeli Jews that he likely needs seriously to influence Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. As important, he lacks the standing he likely needs to convince the Israeli public that the U.S. takes the threat Iran poses to Israel seriously enough.
The poll Paul’s referring to was taken before President Obama abused Prime Minister Netanyahu yet again.
Nile Gardiner notices how
The ritual humiliation of the Israelis is an absolute disgrace, and yet another example of how the Obama administration views its allies with indifference, contempt, and at times outright hostility. It is extraordinary how far the Obama team has gone out of its way to grovel to state sponsors of terrorism, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Muammar Gaddafi, while kicking America’s friends in the teeth.
For now, U.S., Israel Reach Basic Agreement on East Jerusalem Housing, by which
As part of the “list of understandings” reached between the Obama administration and Netanyahu, Hefez said that while “The construction policy will not change. . . . Israel is prepared to make additional steps in order to advance peace talks” with Palestine.
Of course, you would be right to ask, “what additional steps are the Palestinians prepared to make in order to advance the peace talks?”
About the only thing Israel can do to please Obama would be to change its name to Venezuela.
Richard Fernandez touches on the bigger issue in his post The Gathering Storm.
Go read it.