White House Irrelevant to Israeli-Palestinian Relations
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  • Miao

    “President Obama continues to pay a high price for his early Middle Eastern mistakes.”

    It’s nothing compared to the price Israel will pay for his incompetence.

  • Richard F. Miller

    Back in the game?

    I think not. Very soon (perhaps even now) the Palestinians and Israelis renew their subscriptions to Gallup. With Obama in the (metaphorical) dumpster and Republicans likely to roast him on his Middle East mistakes, the Israelis have absolutely no incentive to play with O while the Palestinians will wonder whether any deal made with ditto will be honored by a new incoming administration.

    Indeed, the more desperate O gets for a deal, the less likely some future administration would honor it–any more than O honored the Bush letters after Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza.

  • Toni

    “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.”

    You’re joking, right?

    Obama from the first treated Netanyahu with arrogance and disrespect. He demanded that Israel stop West Bank settlements with no corresponding concession from the Palestinians. He objected to Israeli military action to stop Palestinian rocket attacks. He never demanded that Hamas and the PLO *first* renounce their goal of destroying the Israeli state.

    Here’s an account of how rudely Obama and Biden treated Netanyahu in 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/7521220/Obama-snubbed-Netanyahu-for-dinner-with-Michelle-and-the-girls-Israelis-claim.html

    “Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family, it emerged on Thursday.

    “The snub marked a fresh low in US-Israeli relations and appeared designed to show Mr Netanyahu how low his stock had fallen in Washington after he refused to back down in a row over Jewish construction in east Jerusalem.”

    “As [Obama] left [for dinner], Mr Netanyahu was told to consider the error of his ways.”
    —-
    “It was the second time this month that Mr Netanyahu has been at the receiving end of a US dinner-time snub.

    “A fortnight ago, Joe Biden the US vice president, arrived 90 minutes late for a dinner Mr Netanyahu hosted in Jerusalem….”

    Obama thought he could curry favor with Arab nations and “make outreach to the Palestinians a centerpiece of his Middle East policy” while riding roughshod over Israel’s need for security from deadly hostile neighbors.

    Israel is a tiny sliver of democracy among Palestinians and authoritarian Muslim (and one Persian) nations determined to exterminate it. With his lefty academic sympathy for Palestinians, Obama has evidently never tried to apprehend the existential threat the sliver has faced since its founding.

    Obama wasn’t “taken advantage of.” He was arrogant toward an ally and thought he could dictate its behavior. He never practiced diplomacy.

    When Netanyahu addressed Congress, and got an ovation, Obama discovered that *real* little-d democrats appreciate the plight of this little beleaguered democracy.

  • Mercer

    Is it also Obama and the realists fault that the Cairo embassy is ransacked and Turkey has expelled Israel’s ambassador? These posts and comments seem to think Obama has more responsibility and risk then the Israeli government for Israel’s security.

  • nadine

    “Careful observation, smart strategy and a healthy helping of good luck might allow the White House to get back in the game.”

    Even one out of three would be a nice change of pace. However, Obama seems wedded to all his ideological models, no matter how broken and dysfunctional they prove upon first contact with reality.

    Obama’s model of the Mideast says the Palestinians want a state next to Israel, if only they could get an honest broker to help them get a good deal. Apparently, no amount of contrary experience will teach him that the Palestinians only want a state if it’s instead of Israel, and refuse to make any concession that would put them further away from this, their true goal. So naturally Obama was taken completely by surprise.

  • Richard F. Miller

    Mercer: Non sequitur. This post was on U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian issues. Different dynamic than Ankara or Cairo.

    I use “or” because Cairo and Ankara are themselves powered by different concerns. But what is the same is bilateralism: unlike the U.S./Quartet/Hamas/PA/Israel minuet, relations with Turkey and Egypt are now (almost) exclusively bilateral with Israel.

    Egypt will have no settled foreign policy with Israel until its own domestic institutions are settled, and Israel would be wise to avoid helping to move those in a less favorable way than they are likely to go on their own steam. O? Little he can do or say here.

    As for Turkey the AK’s foreign policy arc has been clear since ’03: turn east. Lately, the neighborhood has offered irresistible temptations for a new Sunni sheriff: a weakening West, a defensive Saudi Arabia, an unsettled (and perhaps now inward-looking Egypt) and an Iraq more Shia than Sunni.

    Perfect for the Turks. As you know, fastest way for street cred in that neighborhood is to saber rattle against the Jews. For present-day Turkey, Israel serves this, and no other purpose–a foil. (Israel should really charge a fee for this service.)

    The major regional risk is the usual one—miscalculation. If Turkey has an enemy in the region, it lives in Tehran and “Kurdistan,” not Jerusalem. ‘Twas ever thus.

    In sum, once upon a time, Obama really did have influence with the PA-Israelis, a blank canvas on which to paint as he pleased. He ended that with his own missteps. Cairo and Turkey? Not so much. O might be criticized for some foolish and naive optics (speeches, and what not) but I can’t blame him for setting balls in motion than were moving long before he was born.

  • Walter Sobchak

    You have to hand it to Obama. The guy has a real talent. He always finds the sour spot.

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