The ongoing spat between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States President Barack Obama has drowned out an important issue. The entire question of the Israel-Palestine conflict seems to be out of sight and out of mind in Washington and the mainstream media. Instead, the focus has been on diplomatic protocols: on what the United States is or is not willing to concede to Iran in talks, on whether Israel can be trusted with sensitive updates on those talks, and on whether issuing renewed sanctions against Iran is a foolish idea.
Traditionally, the United States and the international community in general don’t even try to push peace in Israel’s direction when the Jewish state is in the midst of electoral campaign season. That’s what is happening now as well, despite the drama stirred up by Bibi and his congressional cohorts John Boehner (R-OH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Staying out of Israeli elections is conventional wisdom, but is it the right move now? Read more at LobeLog
A slightly edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog, where I and many other foreign policy experts regularly
Photo: US Secretary of State John Kerry leaves the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, behind as he concludes his failed trip to Israel on April 1, 2014. Credit: State Department
publish. I’d recommend the site just as strongly even if they didn’t publish my stuff.
There are many false clichés about the Israel-Palestine conflict. There are also some very true ones, though these are heard less frequently. Perhaps the most profound of these was proven once again this week: the United States is incapable of playing a positive role in this arena.
There is nothing about that statement that should be controversial. A decades-long line of U.S. politicians and diplomats have spoken of the need to resolve this conflict. In recent years, these statements have often been accompanied by an acknowledgment of the need for “Palestinian self-determination.” But Israel is the one country, among all of the world’s nations, of whom those very same leaders speak in terms of an “unbreakable bond,” a country between whose policies and ours there “is no daylight.”
Let’s say my brother gets in a dispute with someone else, perhaps even someone I am acquainted with. Would anyone think that I would be the appropriate person to mediate that conflict? If my brother also had a lot more money and influence in the conflict, and therefore a fair mediation needed a broker who was willing to pressure my brother into compromise because, right or wrong, he does not have incentive to do so. Am I the person to be expected to level that playing field? Continue reading
My report for IPS on the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the J Street conference.
Ian Lustick’s piece in the New York Times this past weekend certainly raised some hackles. The half-dozen experts I saw speak at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last week, however, largely agreed and bolstered his arguments about the abject failure of the Oslo Peace Process. For me, I believe all these scholars’ works back up the point I’ve been making for years: the Oslo two-state formula was ill-conceived and the intervening two decades have altered its contours only in the direction of making a resolution to the conflict even harder to achieve. I explore at LobeLog.
This piece originally appeared at LobeLog
The so-called “renewed” Israel-Palestine peace process is turning out to be nothing more than an illusion, as many observers from
Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat flanking John Kerry at the kickoff of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
across the political spectrum expected. But the United States is apparently intent on blowing more smoke to maintain that hallucination as long as possible. And the Palestinian Authority, typically, is falling into a trap.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s idea to keep a tight lid on the proceedings was a good one if talks lead somewhere. If they don’t, the aggrieved side is likely to head to the media to air their grievances, feeling that the process is not getting them where they want and that public pressure is their only option. Doing so, however, will surely anger the United States and open the door for the party causing the leaks to end up with the lion’s share of the blame for the talks’ failure.
Amid reports of deep Palestinian dissatisfaction with the way the talks are going, the US seems to be offering the public the same long-view analysis that they did months ago. Not commenting on what is actually taking place between the Israelis and Palestinians in their discussions, a senior State Department official offered the view that the turmoil in Syria and Egypt is spurring the two sides toward compromise. Continue reading
My report for Inter Press Service on the renewal of peace talks between Israel and the PLO.
This piece originally appeared at LobeLog.
Martin Indyk is about to be named the US representative for the resuscitated Israel-Palestinian talks, according to a report from Israel’s Channel 2. (Though it seems Channel 2’s Ehud Yaari was not first with the news. That was actually the inestimable Laura Rozen at al-Monitor)
David Ivry, Paul D. Wolfowitz, Ariel Sharon, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Martin Indyk, at the Pentagon, March 2001
This says a great deal about the US role in the “peace process” and, indeed, the conflict in general. Indyk was the key force in founding the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is, in essence, the think tank of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In fact, Indyk went from working for AIPAC to working for them as WINEP’s first Executive Director in 1985.
He went on to be Bill Clinton’s special assistant for the Middle East and senior director of Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. His government service culminated in appointments as US Ambassador to Israel from April 1995 to September 1997 and again from January 2000 to July 2001. Indyk was as central as any figure to the construction — and failures — of the Oslo process, the Camp David II summit in 2000 and the following years of downward spiral. Continue reading