The Palestinians are sticking to the plan, in spite of last ditch attempts by the Obama administration to stop them going for independence at the UN general assembly this month. From the Washington Post:
Even if a last-minute formula for resuming peace talks were found before then, the Palestinians would go to the United Nations and then negotiate with Israel as a state under occupation, Abbas said.“Now . . . I don’t think it’s workable,” he said of efforts by international mediators to come up with a diplomatic package to head off the U.N. bid. “They came too late.”
President Obama continues to pay a high price for his early Middle Eastern mistakes. Ever since he made the public demand that Israel freeze all settlement activity, only to renege when he belatedly came to understand that he didn’t have the leverage to make that stick, both Israelis and Palestinians have felt free to defy him.The “realists” who told him that Israel would back down if the US made a strong statements have a lot to answer for. The President is now in a tight and unsatisfactory spot; he must support Israel at the UN and can’t use that support to leverage Israeli concessions at the bargaining table. Prime Minister Netanyahu took advantage of President Obama’s inexperience and idealism to flip the balance of forces in the Middle East and tied this President — who longed to make outreach to the Palestinians a centerpiece of his Middle East policy — to the Netanyahu agenda.In the normal course of events, this administration would be finished as far as the “peace process” was concerned. However the Arab Spring is shaking up the old strategic calculations and creating a volatile new situation. Careful observation, smart strategy and a healthy helping of good luck might allow the White House to get back in the game.Might. But for now, the White House lacks the standing or the trust on either side of the Middle East divide to play an effective diplomatic role.