Obama the Humble declares there will be no more "dictating"
to other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed
to simply dictating solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In
Middle East negotiations, he told Al-Arabiya, America will
henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the
United States starts by dictating." An admirable sentiment. It
applies to everyone - Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even
Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimksi
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained
the diktat: "a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not
outposts, not natural-growth exceptions." What's the issue? No
"natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns
close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of
Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has
envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in
population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no
housing for them - not even within the existing town
boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to
move out. No community can survive like that.
The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these
towns - even before negotiations.
To what end? Over the last decade, the US government has
understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel
retaining some of the close-in settlements - and compensating
the Palestinians accordingly with land from within Israel
That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David
negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all,
why turn towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can
stay in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted
slightly into the Palestinian side to capture the major
close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into Israeli
territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?
This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both
Democratic and Republican administrations for the last decade,
but was agreed to in writing in the letters of understanding
exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004 - and
subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent
resolution of Congress.
Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to
endorse these agreements or even say it will honor them. This
from a president who piously insists that all parties to the
conflict honor previous obligations.
The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. It's
farcical to suggest that the peace process is moribund because
a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an
addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren - when
Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war
with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every
one of Ehud Olmert's peace offers, brazenly declares that he
is in a waiting mode - waiting for Hamas to become moderate
and for Israel to cave - before he'll do anything to advance
IN HIS MUCH-HERALDED "Muslim world" address in Cairo
Thursday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people's
"situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60
years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people
corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced
militarization; leadership that for three generations - Haj
Amin al-Husseini in 1947, Yasser Arafat in 2000, Abbas in
December 2008 - rejected every offer of independence and
dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept
any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.
In the 16 years since the Oslo Accords turned the West Bank
and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders - Fatah and
Hamas alike - built no schools, no roads, no courthouses, no
hospitals, no institutions that would relieve their people's
suffering. Instead they poured everything into an
infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing
billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank
Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he
uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides
and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration
of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the
legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing
the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the
fault of Israel and the settlements.
Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth"
may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only
induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for
America to deliver Israel on a platter.
Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but
- The Washington Post Writers Group