Commentary Magazine


A Perfect Mess in the Middle East, Thanks to Obama

Obama’s “smart” Middle East diplomacy has strained relations with the Jewish state, alienated American Jews, stymied direct negotiations, raised and dashed the Palestinians’ hopes, and encouraged Israel delegitimizers, who now are pondering recognizing a Palestinian state. This report explains how matters are deteriorating:

Israel will pursue its own unilateral steps if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiating table and instead seek UN support for unilateral moves to declare a state within the pre- 1967 lines, a government source told The Jerusalem Post late Thursday night.
“If the Palestinians think that unilateral moves are a one-way street, they are sadly mistaken. It is an option that both sides have,” said the source.

It is not clear exactly which unilateral moves are under consideration. (“There was some speculation that Israel may be considering reviving aspects of former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s ‘convergence’ ideas for a unilateral withdrawal from isolated parts of the West Bank, evacuating settlements and deploying soldiers there instead.”) But it is an indication of the sorry state of the administration’s diplomatic efforts. We now have no direct talks, but we do have mutual threats of unilateral action.

Hillary Clinton is nervous, declaring: “There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and, ultimately, for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting peace.” Less clear is what the U.S. would do to stave off such an effort. Is the administration prepared to veto any resolution? Cut funding to the PA?

The contrast between the Bush and Obama administrations could not be clearer. We’ve gone from a warm U.S.-Israeli relationship with direct talks to a frosty relationship and no direct talks. And meanwhile, those centrifuges keep spinning in Iran.

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