In case that photo op had you fooled, the Middle East “peace process’ is nowhere, as this report explains:
Israelis and Palestinians said Wednesday that their envoys would meet with U.S. officials but not with each other, cementing the impression that a U.S.-sponsored meeting between their leaders had fallen flat.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said there would be no follow-up session with the Israelis because the two sides hadn’t bridged the divides that have prevented them from resuming talks.
“It’s not happening because we agreed to continue dealing with the Americans until we reach the agreement that will enable us to relaunch the negotiations,” Erekat said.
The Palestinians refuse to restart talks until Israel freezes settlement construction in territories the Palestinians claim for a future state.
By elevating the issue of settlements, Obama only played into the Palestinians’ natural inclination toward rejectionism and obstructionism. But let’s be candid: the Palestinians are in no position to make a deal—or discuss a deal. What promise could they give about terrorism? What offer of recognition would they be empowered to make? All that has happened is that the naive and self-described “impatient” U.S. president has given the Palestinians a ready-made excuse not to show up.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman suggests that the president refocus:
The Obama administration needs to get tougher on Iran if it wants to broker peace in the Middle East, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Wednesday.
The Senate Armed Services Committee member also reiterated his support for tough economic sanctions against Tehran, which he argued was the only way to show President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the United States was serious about nuclear non-proliferation.
“The original Obama administration position seemed to suggest the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East was the Israeli policy of building on territory [believed to be Palestinian],” Lieberman told MSNBC. “The real threat to peace in the Middle East is Iran.”
“If you look at our policy, which is a global policy, to stop the Iranians from building nuclear weapons, everything we have done thus far has failed,” Lieberman added, noting that he was preparing a bill that would levy new economic sanctions on the country. “I think the only way we’re going to stop this development… is for us to make it clear to the Iranians that if they don’t stop, they’ll suffer.”
Well, now that there’s no peace being processed, perhaps the Obama team will take him up on his fine suggestion.