As I’ve noted over the past few days, the Obama team’s last-ditch effort to restart the non-peace talks has taken on a cringe-inducing quality. As the Washington Post editors remark, the smorgasbord of “incentives” appears to almost everyone, other than the Obami themselves, to be nothing more than “desperate improvisation.”
Let’s count the ways in which that is so. For starters, it’s not clear Bibi’s cabinet would accept it. Second, the Arab League and its Palestinian clients have already said there’s no deal without a freeze on building in East Jerusalem (a demand that even the Obama team has finally learned is a non-starter). Third, a 10-month settlement freeze didn’t do the trick, so what is the next 90-day freeze supposed to bring? And finally, as the rest of the players in the Middle East look on, they learn a lesson: the Obama team will pay a very high price to avoid humiliating the president. The mullahs, the Syrians, the Turks, and all the rest will learn from this as they calculate what they too might extract from the U.S.
And let’s not forget how we got here: Obama and his “smart” diplomats elevated this issue, forcing both Bibi and the PA into a no-win bargaining position — hence, the high price to extract himself from the collapse of an initiative that he made a top priority. That, too, was a mistake, for it has let other issues fester, unnerved the Arab states who wonder when we’re going to devote ourselves to de-fanging the Iranian regime, and damaged our relationship with the Jewish state with no appreciable gain in our standing with Israel’s neighbors.