If this isn’t a perfect exemplar of the total disarray of U.S. policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict I don’t know what is. The background: after the Netanyahu government unilaterally declared the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb in the tinderbox area of Hebron to be national heritage sites, Palestinian protests and demonstrations began almost immediately especially in the Temple Mount area and the rest of East Jerusalem. Because this is precisely how the first and second Intifadas began (by Israeli provocation and Palestinian uproar in response), many in and outside Israel have been deeply concerned about the situation.
The UN Security Council approved a mild statement of concern which the U.S. delegation did not object to during an SC session. It read:
“The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the current tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem,” [Security Council president] Issoze-Ngondet said.
“They urged all sides to show restraint and avoid provocative acts,” he said after a closed-door meeting. “They stressed that peaceful dialogue was the only way forward and looked forward to an early resumption of negotiations.”
When a Palestinian leader claimed that the U.S. in the statement was calling for Israel to avoid further provocations, the U.S. delegation panicked and immediately disowned it. Apparently our policy is so tied to Israel’s apron strings that we daren’t be perceived as in any way shape or form criticizing Israel, even when such criticism is more than justified as in this case.
So I ask: does this mean that the U.S. is not concerned with the current tense situation and doesn’t urge all side to show restraint? That we don’t believe peaceful dialogue is the only way forward? I’m well on my way to entirely giving up on the Obama Middle East policy. This is just another nail in the coffin.
I note a report in a Middle East newspaper that George Mitchell has already submitted his resignation to Pres. Obama out of the former’s own frustration and that the president rejected it. I haven’t seen anything further on this in the media so it’s possible it was not accurate. But it’s instructive. Steve Walt has already called for Mitchell to resign. Obama needs to good swift kick in the ass and that would give it to him. Why preside over a meaningless, meandering policy going nowhere fast?