America is used to buying its way to quasi-peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and appears to be doing something similar by buying Israel’s acquiescence in a 90-day, partial settlement freeze. The going price: $33.33-million a day for the entire 90 day process [thanks readers, for correcting my math!]. Now, we know what Hillary and Bibi were doing in that New York hotel suite for seven hours earlier this week. It wasn’t canoodling! But she was virtually giving away the store.
As a way of computing the comparative value of Palestinian obeisance. Clinton earlier this week held a press conference announcing a new U.S. contribution to the PA. Pricetag? $150-million (or about $1.5-million per day). The first thing the Palestinians need to learn how to do is drive a harder bargain. They bought ’em cheap.
I say ‘partial’ because Israel will be free to continue “Judaizing” East Jerusalem by unlimited building there, which includes 1,300 units announced earlier this month. Such “Judaizing” settlement building doesn’t include the additional quasi-legal expropriation and pilfering of existing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem coördinated by settler land-theft groups like Elad and Irving Moskowitz’s syndicate. The building freeze will also not apply to public buildings like hospitals, schools, police stations anywhere in the West Bank or Jerusalem.
I remain mystified why this freeze extension was so important it was worth paying so dearly for in security guarantees and weapons sales. After all, this is practically a year’s worth of U.S. military aid to Israel in three months! The $3-billion amounts to the cost of 20 new U.S. F-35 fighter jets (one wonders to what mischief Israel could put them regarding a few military adventures it is angling to take on…).
Not to mention, the U.S. has also agreed to veto any Arab/Palestinian effort to bring its proposal for recognition of statehood before the Security Council (at least for the next three months). Further, this statement from Obama’s in-house version of Dennis Ross, Dan Shapiro, indicates the U.S. will combat world-wide “de-legitimization” (a new pro-Israel hasbarist buzzword) efforts against Israel as part of this bargain:
They included increased U.S. diplomatic opposition to efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora, continuing to block efforts to revive the Goldstone Report at the United Nations, promising to block condemnation of Israel at the United Nations for its raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, and defeating resolutions aimed to expose Israel’s nuclear program at the IAEA, and increasing pressure on Iran and Syria to stop their nuclear and proliferation activities.
Not only do we give these guys a jet fighter armada, we destroy any moral credibility we might have on the world stage on their behalf. Now, I’m really starting to get mad!
What can Obama have in his mind that he can achieve with this? Certainly, he can now get Abbas to come back to the negotiating table. So we resume a semblance of negotiating process without any substance. The Times article says the U.S. believes in the coming three months it can get both sides to agree on what land will be retained by the PA and what land will be retained by Israel. After that, Israel may resume building in only the areas which both sides have confirmed will remain Israeli. Frankly, I don’t see it. Neither side has come anywhere near such an agreement previously and not for lack of trying. Most recently, Olmert presented such formal border proposals to Abbas who sniffed at them and replied: “Not good enough.” What’s changed? Has Israel’s offer sweetened (puh-leeze)? Has Palestinian desperation increased? Not really. So what gives? I say nothin’.
Is this what was so important to the president to achieve? To save face before the American people so he can tell them for the next three months there IS a peace process…until it breaks down once again as it invariably will. I know he’s had a hard Asia trip and took a shellacking in the mid-terms. But was this worth it?
You see, there is one major ingredient missing: commitment. Not just Israel’s commitment, which is the major missing factor. But surprising as it may seem, Obama’s commitment as well. Like most other American presidents before him with the exception of Jimmy Carter and George Bush pere, they come in with blizzards of words and precious little in the way of real gumption. In Middle East peace negotiation, you can’t get there without it. And Obama definitely ain’t got it. He’s got the razzle-dazzle. He’s sort of a political version of the Shyne character I wrote about yesterday, with his [Shyne’s] elegant fedora and shades. But you need more than a glib tongue [Obama’s] in this region. You need deeds, you need heart, you need guts. Obama’s got brain, but no brawn.
I was also concerned that Hillary Clinton’s statement after her latest love fest with Bibi in New York indicated that the U.S. had already negotiated away an issue key to the Palestinian interlocutors:
In the second, she spoke of an agreement that “reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state…
So all Bibi needs to say now is: the Yanks agreed we’re a Jewish state, why not the Palestinians? I think the U.S. just gave Bibi an enormous hunk of halva with that $3-billion.
- New deal on moratorium: This administration’s worst move yet? (promisedlandblog.com)