Obama administration officials are in Israel this week for more talks with Israel and the Palestinians. Their goal isn’t simply to try and get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bend to the president’s demand Israel accept the 1967 lines as the starting point for future negotiations, though that is certainly on the top of their agenda. It is to force Israel to make concessions that will somehow convince the Palestinians to abandon their effort to have the United Nations recognize an independent Palestinian state inside those same 1967 borders.
The Americans are pretending the purpose of the president’s controversial Middle East policy speech and the subsequent diplomatic hammering of Israel by Secretary of State Clinton and envoy Dennis Ross is to revive the long stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. But no one seriously believes the Palestinians are interested in negotiations. They have had several opportunities during the two and a half years of the Obama administration but have consistently refused.
Now the Palestinians have decided the Third World anti-Israel majority in the United Nations will eliminate the need for them to even go through the charade of negotiations. UN recognition will mean they can have their state without recognizing Israel’s legitimacy or agreeing to end the conflict. This is a recipe for more bloodshed and an end of American influence in the region. Which is why any U.S. administration, even one as unfriendly to Israel as that of Obama, must veto such a resolution. But the president, who pines for the love of the Arab world in vain, doesn’t want to do it. So he is putting all of his effort into making Israel bribe the Palestinians into dropping the UN initiative.
This is madness for a number of reasons.
First, there is no reason for the U.S. to fold when in all likelihood, the Palestinians will have to give up anyway. Their plan has no chance of success.
Second, any Israeli concessions at this point will not lead to real peace talks. Had PA leader Mahmoud Abbas been willing to accept a Palestinian state in peace alongside Israel in borders that largely resemble what Obama is demanding, he could have said yes to such an offer in 2008 when Ehud Olmert put it on the table. But he said no then just as his predecessor Yasir Arafat said no to previous Israeli offers in 2000 and 2001. Given that he is now part of a coalition with the Islamists of Hamas, there is literally no chance Abbas can make peace now–no matter what gifts he is handed by Obama.
Netanyahu and Israel’s supporters in the United States are being told the Jewish state must give in on the borders to help Obama in the UN. But whether Netanyahu caves or not, there will be no peace talks and no UN recognition of a Palestinian state. All that would be accomplished by an Israeli surrender would be giving up its only bargaining chips — territory — in exchange for nothing. Even worse, doing so now would be an implicit recognition of Hamas’ legitimacy, which would mark yet another departure by the Obama administration from the pro-Israel policies of its predecessors.