The South Africanization of Israel?

Written on December 20, 2010 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Americas, Foreign Policy, Middle East, News

Two States, No Solutions

By James Traub

Barack Obama says the Israeli-Palestinian impasse is a threat to the United States’ national security. But is he acting like it is?

Last weekend I was in Abu Dhabi, where I teach a class on U.S. foreign policy, and I was asked to do a Q&A on the Barack Obama administration’s Middle East policy. Preparing myself, I knew what I wanted to say about Iran, and Iraq, and elections in Egypt. But I was flummoxed on the “peace process.” The process had just ground to a halt with the administration’s decision to abandon the mortifying effort to bribe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into adopting the very modest gesture of a 90-day freeze on settlements. I always try to challenge my audience’s assumptions. But if my Emirati listeners felt that Israeli intransigence had driven the Palestinians to despair of the possibility of a two-state solution, I had nothing to say in response — except that internal Palestinian divisions had made the problem worse.

It was a friendly audience — this was Abu Dhabi, not Cairo. But afterward I was asked, “How can President Obama permit this? Can’t he put pressure on the Israelis?” I thought: What’s the right answer to this question? Is it: “He tried, but not hard enough, and then he gave up”? Or is it: “No, like in Afghanistan and Iraq, he’s found that he has less leverage than he thought”?

You can make a reasonable argument that Obama has done about as well as he could with the hand he was dealt in Iran, in Iraq, and even in Afghanistan (though this last case has become harder and harder to make). You can’t make this argument in regard to the peace process, where the administration has in effect admitted defeat, giving up hope for promoting direct talks between the two sides in favor of “parallel” talks, with an American mediator shuttling back and forth between capitals. Although this will remove the impediment of a settlement freeze Israel declined to accept, it will require compromises on underlying issues which neither side seems prepared to make,and offers accordingly little prospect of success. At the same time, Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Gen. David Petraeus have stated publicly that the ongoing failure of the peace process constitutes a threat to American national security. The despair the Palestinians now feel, and the anger among broader Arab publics, is very dangerous for the United States. Not only al Qaeda, but Hamas and Hezbollah feed on the anger in the Islamic world over the plight of the Palestinians. Read more…

As published in www.foreignpolicy.com (December 17, 2010)


Rita December 29, 2010 - 1:38 am

Has anyone out there ever heard America was a melting pot, in particular Los Angeles, CA.? A wise man once told me, it’s impossible to be a melting pot, on the other hand a salad bowl, now that’s a different story. A lettuce is not a tomato, but they can both co-exist well in a salad bowl. I guess, point being, not sure it’s one man or one countries responsibility to talk about “peace”, after all, what tangibly, does that mean anyways? Perhaps, it’s time we discuss “understanding”, “acceptance”, and a move forward plan from there.

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