The Washington Post takes Barack Obama to task for his latest damaging mistake - calling for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to start with an agreement by Israel that it be based on a return to 1967 lines with land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a recipe for disaster cooked up the President.
From the Post editorial:
Now, of all times, the Israeli and U.S. governments ought to be working closely together; they should be trying to defuse the U.N. threat, induce Mr. Abbas to change course, and above all prevent a resumption of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, Friday found Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu once again publicly and poisonously at odds with each other, thanks to a handful of lines added by Mr. Obama to his Middle East speech on Thursday...
But Mr. Netanyahu has not yet signed on, and so Mr. Obama's decision to confront him with a formal U.S. embrace of the idea, with only a few hours' warning, ensured a blowup. Israeli bad feeling was exacerbated by Mr. Obama's failure to repeat past U.S. positions - in particular, an explicit stance against the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.
Mr. Obama should have learned from his past diplomatic failures - including his attempt to force a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank - that initiating a conflict with Israel will thwart rather than advance peace negotiations. He may also be giving short shrift to what Mr. Netanyahu called "some basic realities." The president appears to assume that Mr. Abbas is open to a peace deal despite growing evidence to the contrary. And while he acknowledges that it is "very difficult" to expect Israel "to negotiate in a serious way" with a party - Hamas - that rejects its existence, Mr. Obama has been vague about what the Palestinians must do to resolve this concern...
This president likes to portray himself as a pragmatist in foreign policy. In this case, pragmatism would suggest that restoring trust with Israel, rather than courting a feckless Palestinian leader, would be the precondition to any diplomatic success.
The master of this disaster is Barack Obama.
Obama runs foreign policy. He is a one-man show (maybe with an assist from Samantha Power) who learned about the Middle East from pro-Palestinian academics ("his introduction to the Arab-Israeli conflict was initially framed by discussions with Palestinian academics ").
Those academics would include the late Edward Said of Columbia University who Obama probably had as a teacher, though we do not know for sure since he won't release his transcripts. But he was at Columbia while Said taught there and he has described himself during those years as associating with the crowd that would include Said. (Of course, he only admitted those associations in his memoir that he wrote in his 20s.)
We know he had a close friendship with Palestinian activists (and former PLO member) Rashid Khalidi who now is the Edward Said professor at Columbia and continues Said's tradition of attacking Israel.
Obama also solicits advice from two columnists on Middle east issues, according to the very hooked-in Washington Post columnist David Ignatius: Tom Friedman (who promoted the Saudi Peace Plan years ago-that included a return to the 1967 borders) and Fareed Zakaria (the preacher of American decline and not noted as a supporter of Israel).
Now it appears that, in a sudden move, Obama decided at the last minute to insert the language advancing the notion that "peace negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinians should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps. Those lines have been called "Auschwitz borders" by former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, since they would imperil Israel's very existence.
This call also is contrary to the position of various American Presidents over the last 40 years and eviscerates the promises made to Israel by President George Bush - supported by the US Congress - regarding "defensible borders."
Even the UN Resolution 242, that was supposed to be the guiding light to future negotiations between Israel and her neighbors, discussed withdrawal from "territories" seized in the 1967 war, and its drafters expressly said that it was never contemplated that the language meant "all territories" seized by Israel in that war. The Resolution itself states that the goal was "secure and recognized borders".
However, Barack Obama, who characterized himself as a "student of history," apparently is ignorant of all that history. Hence his serial blundering around the world and his willingness to tear up previous agreements and betray old and reliable friends and allies.
Another "Blowup with Israel" with the plunger on the detonator being pushed by the President.
Incidentally, if this treatment of Israel was designed to dissuade the Palestinians from going to the United Nations in its bid for statehood, it failed. The Palestinians announced after Obama's speech that they plan to continue to push at the UN for a General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine. Furthermore, the Quartet has signed onto Barack Obama's approach, throwing under the bus all the parameters and protections the previous President insisted upon to protect Israel and promote peace - a plan that was performance-based and put demands on both parties to take steps towards peace.