Not So “Direct” After All

If you had any doubt about the efficacy of the “peace talks,” this should remind you that precious little is being accomplished:

[T]he “direct talks” between Israel and the Palestinians are taking more the form of negotiations between each side and the Americans, with both the Palestinians and Israel trying to convince the US of the reasonableness of their respective positions.

As Elliott Abrams explained recently, the “mistake is to intrude too deeply and too often in what must be a bilateral negotiation.” So long as the parties are talking mostly to George Mitchell, nothing productive is being accomplished:

As Nahum Barnea wrote in the widest-circulation Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth … “In all the talks that Israeli governments held in the past, with the Arab states and with the Palestinians, the Americans only got into the thick of the talks at the last stage. The talks were direct and bilateral. … Not this time. This time the Americans intend to sit at the negotiating table and to stay there. The talks will be direct, but trilateral.”

Not only will there be no progress in the talks, but, in proceeding this way, we’ll merely emphasize that the collapse of the talks is a failure of the Obama team. While predictable, there is no reason to welcome the Obami’s humiliation. After all, we need some veneer of credibility and the appearance of effectiveness if we are to continue to maintain alliances and confront the real national security crises we face.