|Obama sails between the Scylla of|
US voters who support Israel
and the Charybdis of his ‘friends’
in the Arab world.
12 September '11
The NY Times, in an editorial published on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, calls for the imposition of a Palestinian state because allowing a UN vote would be ‘ruinous’:
A United Nations vote on Palestinian membership would be ruinous. Yet with little time left before the U.N. General Assembly meets, the United States, Israel and Europe have shown insufficient urgency or boldness in trying to find a compromise solution.
Although it would provide a peg to hang violent disturbances on, maybe even a new intifada, and enable Palestinian ‘lawfare’ against Israel, a GA vote would not be ‘ruinous’ for Israel. The ruin would fall upon Barack Obama, whose decision to veto (or not) a subsequent Security Council resolution would put him between the Scylla of US voters who support Israel and the Charybdis of his ‘friends’ in the Arab world.
So in order to save the President, the Times thinks that the US and Europe should hold Israel down while the Arabs rape her:
The United States and its Quartet partners (the European Union, the United Nations and Russia) should put a map and a deal on the table, with a timeline for concluding negotiations and a formal U.N. statehood vote. The core element: a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and guarantees for Israel’s security. The Security Council and the Arab League need to throw their full weight behind any plan.
Exactly what “mutually agreed” could mean here is unclear, since the Palestinians have said over and over “not one centimeter…” etc. The Palestinians rejected compromise offers in 2000 and 2008, so it’s hard to imagine that they would suddenly become more generous in the framework of a coerced settlement.
Regarding ‘guarantees’, can the Times possibly be serious? Did the guarantee Israel received from the US in 1956 that it would keep the Strait of Tiran open mean anything in 1967? What about the Multilateral Force in the Sinai that fled at Nasser’s request? Or the UN guarantee to prevent Hizballah from rearming after the 2006 war? If there is one thing that the Jewish people learned from the Holocaust, and from Israel’s wars that followed, it is that they must depend on themselves for their survival.
Since the Palestinians or the Arab league have never agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to give up the demand to resettle Arab refugees in Israel, would such a coerced settlement force them to do so? How?
The Times tells us whose fault it is that direct negotiations haven’t succeeded:
Both sides share the blame with Mr. Obama and Arab leaders (we put the greater onus on Mr. Netanyahu, who has used any excuse to thwart peace efforts).
This is so far from the truth that it’s breathtaking. Obama encouraged the Palestinians to not return to negotiations after the Gaza war of 2008-9 by demanding a freeze on construction inside settlements, something that had never been a requirement before. Netanyahu agreed and there was a 10-month freeze with no results (except domestic political problems for him). Then the Palestinians demanded the freeze be extended for three months, and this time he did not agree. So who’s doing the thwarting?
Since 1993, Israel has moved very far in the direction of compromise. ‘Left-wing’ Itzhak Rabin was elected on a platform of opposition to a Palestinian state. Now ‘right-wing, hard-liner’ Netanyahu favors it. Israeli offers since 2000 have been more and more generous. But Palestinians still refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, still demand 1949 lines as borders and still demand right of return to Israel for Arab refugees. So naturally, the Times thinks that Israel should be pressured to move even farther:
Congress has threatened to cut millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority if it presses for a U.N. vote. Instead of just threatening the Palestinians, Congress should lean on Mr. Netanyahu to return to talks.
The theme of “whatever you do, don’t stop paying them” is continued:
Mr. Obama in particular needs to show firmer leadership in pressing Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas to resume talks. If a U.N. vote takes place, Washington and its partners will have to limit the damage, including continuing to finance the Palestinian Authority.
Simply put, pressure Netanyahu and try to bribe the Arabs (who will — as always — pocket the money and do what they want).
But I’ve saved the best for last. Apparently the Times’ editorial writer fancies himself a diplomat, choosing to express himself with careful ambiguity. Stuck in incongruously as the next-to-last paragraph we find this:
It is astonishing that this late in the game, America and Europe remain divided over some aspects of a proposal for peace talks — like Israel’s demand for recognition as a Jewish state.
There is no hint about which side the Times thinks we should take! Is the demand for recognition just another example of Netanyahu’s ‘excuses’ to avoid negotiations? It’s not hard to guess. I would be astonished myself to find the Times pro-recognition. The rest of the editorial makes its position very clear.
Ten years after 9/11, the pressure to crush the last outpost of Western civilization in the Middle East is greater than ever, and the New York Times is firmly on the dark side of the conflict.
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