The ink isn’t even dry on the press release announcing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks beginning under U.S. auspices on September 2nd, before just about everyone except Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is sighing with abject resignation and conviction that they will be a failure. Why? First, because the U.S. president has not publicly told the sides what the consequences of failure will be. There must be a downside for the parties that will keep them in line when the going gets tough (as it assuredly will). With no downside, Bibi will play Obama like a tin fiddle. Second, Bibi doesn’t want the talks to succeed and will do absolutely nothing to make them work. Why should he? Where’s the benefit to him? His coalition is filled with far-right yahoos who will scream bloody murder at the first sign of weakness from their leader. Does he need such headaches? Does he relish the idea of retiring to a plush office at the Shalem Center so he can gaze fondly at a portrait of his sugar daddy, Shelly Adelson, on the wall? Not likely.
Frankly, I can’t see anything in this for Mahmoud Abbas either, and have no clue why he agreed to participate. Did he enjoy having endless coffees with Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and Ramallah so much that he wants to resume the pleasure, except his time in Washington? What will he get from this? Another upgrade of his D.C. digs from third world backwater semi-official would-be embassy to almost embassy of a soon to be nation in waiting?
If this is all the Obama administration has up its sleeve it has a losing hand. But if it has a backup plan in the certain event of failure, then it might still wrest victory from the jaws of defeat. If it is prepared and possibly even expects failure and has a Plan B which would call for an internationally imposed settlement on both sides, then he might be onto something. In the end, the only thing that can save the parties from mutually assured destruction is external intervention.
The eventual solution is there for all to see and clear as day. But getting there with these two parties is nigh unto impossible. So in order to prevent them from doing even more mischief than they have already to regional stability and world order, there must be outside powers who tell them what they will do for peace. Let them scream bloody murder, swear up and down it will not, indeed cannot happen. Have no doubt, it will happen.
I more and more see Israel playing the role Serbia did in the Kosovo and Bosnian conflicts. It too saw itself as victim of NATO and U.S. perfidy. It swore on the graves of its forefathers that it would never capitulate. Its national honor was on the line, etc. And guess what happened? It blinked when faced with indomitable international pressure. The same may and could happen with Israel.
As usual, Ethan Bronner’s reporting linked above is full of his typical blithely partisan blather, though the basic reporting of facts is useful.