Hillary Clinton is now seeing the results of the Obami’s Middle East handiwork. While she now praises Bibi Netanyahu for “unprecedented” concessions, this is too little and too late for the Palestinians, whose demand for an absolute settlement freeze was adopted by the administration, only to be discarded when it predictably proved to be a nonstarter. She now pleads that Netanyahu can’t be expected to do anymore; the Palestinians say it is not enough. This report explains:
The U.S. said that is the best they can get” from Netanyahu, even though the Obama administration considers settlements ‘illegal and illegitimate,’ ” Erekat said. The Palestinians will not accept a resumption of talks on that basis, he said. At a news conference here Saturday night with Netanyahu, Clinton did not comment on the Palestinian account of the talks she had earlier in the day with Abbas. She said the differences between the two sides on all issues should be negotiated face to face. Those comments and others seemed to mark a final departure from early U.S criticism with Israel over settlements, which ultimately served to bolster Netanyahu with the Israeli public even as it raised — unrealistically, as it turned out — Palestinian expectations that a building freeze was in the offing.
So now we hear that direct talks between the parties are “increasingly unlikely” by the end of the year. And Clinton is left going through the motions, in a vain effort to disguise the utter failure of the Obama team’s gambit. (“Clinton’s objective on this trip seemed less to achieve any real breakthrough than to give the impression of continued effort. But the Palestinian position, if anything, appears to have hardened in recent days, leaving Israel to portray itself as the more willing partner.”) The Obama team, however, told us it knew better. The problem had been that we were too close to Israel. Or the problem had been that George W. Bush wasn’t personally involved. Or maybe it was that we hadn’t apologized to the Muslim World enough. But the Obama team’s assumptions have proved entirely faulty and its execution utterly incompetent. Will there be any consequences for the architects of this debacle? Unlikely.