Aaron Miller, long-time State Department official, warns President Obama against pushing so hard for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Lara Friedman, of Americans for Peace Now, explores the tangled web that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will
need to walk now that even the Arab League has endorsed direct talks.
The sum of both articles, though, leaves one wondering why Barack Obama is pushing so hard for direct talks.
It’s clear enough why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants direct talks. Israel has done nothing to advance the proximity talks and faced no consequences for it. In direct talks, that will be even truer; holding the talks will satisfy much of the world, and Israel will be able to prolong them indefinitely.
But what exactly does Obama expect to come from direct talks at this stage? Netanyahu is shouting to all that will listen that he can’t even extend the joke of a settlement moratorium or his government will fall (it won’t). So how can we believe he can possibly make the concessions necessary for peace?
That aside, let’s say Abbas and Netanyahu do come to an agreement that satisfies both sides. What happens with Gaza and Hamas? Part of any agreement that the Palestinians can agree to is the affirmation of the principle that the West Bank and Gaza are a single territorial unit.
If such an agreement, then, is not possible, what’s the big rush for direct talks?
It does seem that this is another symptom of the tragic lack of strategy that has dogged Obama’s Mideast efforts from day one. The President has kept this issue on the front burner, and I remain convinced of his good intentions.
But we all know what is said about the road to hell. (more…)