Sunday, December 16, 2018 -
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Dangerous words

What a mess! It’s extremely difficult at this point, a week after myriad statements, re-negs, and speeches, to see how the various parties – the US, Israel, PA – can extract themselves from the tangle and move forward.

Obama’s statement that a Palestinian state should be created according to pre-1967 borders was downright irresponsible and, frankly, delusional. As we already pointed out in our last entry, the situation on the ground two weeks ago with attacks on the Syrian border is proof enough that reverting to an Israel sans Golan Heights is not an option.

But beyond that, Obama’s statement was irresponsible on so many levels. He handed, on a golden platter, a “non-negotiable” to the Palestinian side, a reason to leave the table at any time. Ultimately, what Obama created is a Catch-22, a dead end for any fruitful peace talks. If Israel refuses to return to pre-67 borders, the Palestinians leave the discussion. But, as Netanyahu clearly and repeatedly iterated, Israel cannot agree to such terms. Final result: no talks. Who’s keeping score, because right now, Obama, you’re falling short.

Does Obama not remember 2000’s Camp David talks, when Arafat rejected Barak’s offer of 90% of the West Bank? Or when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza? Heck, remember in 1947 when the Arab world rejected the UN proposal for partition and then waged war on Israel? Well, lesson learned. Wait long enough and keep up a mid-level terrorism campaign and one day, even if it’s 63 years later, the president of the United States will give you what you want. Obama talked about both sides needing to leave their entrenched positions, but why? When you’ve just been handed the trump card, logic would dictate you dig in further, not suddenly compromise.

Of course Obama says that Israel’s security must be guaranteed by this new Palestinian state (the same one where one major political party denies Israel’s very right to exist!) and non-militarization is one way of achieving this. How is this man, the same person who just ordered the hit on the world’s most wanted terrorist and who’s busy fighting insurgencies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, forgetting that violence comes in different packages? That terrorism is in most cases divorced from an official state military apparatus? That no military doesn’t necessarily equal peace, love and happiness.

And look at Germany, which after World War II was to remain an occupied territory without an independent military. But soon after the war’s end the West decided that creating a militarized West Germany was necessary in fighting the Cold War against the Soviet Union, and ultimately, strengthening NATO. Lesson: people change their minds and situations change. So non-militarized today can mean deploying troops tomorrow. And what’s not to say that some friends in the Arab world wouldn’t suddenly discover their as yet untapped generosity and supply this fledgling state with weapons?

We’re left with one question: Who are Obama’s policy advisors? We’re truly confounded. Because for someone who sells himself as deliberate, the antidote to the rash, issue-driven politician, your advisors did you a bad turn this time. What’s clear from the brouhaha of this past week is that Obama was ill prepared for the consequences and ill informed of the issues when he opened his mouth last Thursday.

(Looking for more information? Check out this week’s IJN and online news analysis, local reactions, editorials, and columns.)




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