Obama hints that Two-State Solution may be Impossible

President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that despite the expenditure of substantial political capital by his administration it may be that no progress will be made on Israel-Palestine peace. AP says he replied to a question as to whether his recent successes in negotiating nuclear arms reduction with Russia and getting 48 nations to sign on to an agreement to more closely monitor nuclear material might translate into diplomatic successes elsewhere.

‘ The two sides “may say to themselves, ‘We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,'” Obama said. Obama reiterated that peace is a vital goal, but one that may be beyond reach “even if we are applying all of our political capital.”‘

Obama may well be right. But note the implications of no progress between Israel and the Palestinians on political settlement of their dispute:

1. Iran– the primary rejectionist state in the region, will grow in power and popularity in the Middle East

2. Anger in the Arab world toward Israel and the US will grow in intensity

3. Israeli policy toward East Jerusalem could itself be the cause for a war. Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims and Christians as well as to Jews.

4. Israel’s status as a de facto Apartheid state will be made permanent and the boycott movement will grow, ultimately affecting the Israeli economy

5. The two-state solution is dead as a doornail, and Israel will either have to give the Palestinians citizenship, or face a long and bitter struggle by the Palestinians to make their state in the teeth of Israeli opposition.

Obama’s team tried to get the Palestine Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas to restart negotiations last year, but the long-suffering Abbas insisted on a freeze on the creeping Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank first. That is, he insisted that Israel not be actively annexing the very territory at issue while the talks proceeded. It would sort of be like negotiating to buy a mansion from a seller who was dismantling wings of it and carting them off to his new residence while he kept jacking up the asking price on his increasingly diminished domicile.

Netanyahu finally agreed to an 8-month settlement freeze on the West Bank. But the offer was insincere. Building within existing settlements would continue, so they would get denser. And, the parts of the West Bank Israel had illegally and unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem would continue to be settled. The first, flawed offer by Netanyahu was enough to bring Abbas to indirect negotiations. But then the implementation of the second bit of insincerity scotched any movement toward peace talks as the Palestinians decided that they had to retain a modicum of self-respect. That the building of 1600 new homes on Palestinian land near Jerusalem was announced just as VP Joe Biden arrived in Israel to kick off the proximity talks made it look as though Israel is not only a fickle and unreliable diplomatic partner, but beyond that, as though its government was intent on kicking Biden in the teeth and humiliating Washington.

One problem Obama faces is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a coordinating body for the Israel lobbies, has successfully mobilized both houses of Congress against him with regard to putting further pressure on far rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stop building settlements. Congress decides on how much money to give Israel annually, and how many weapons to sell it. Obama cannot effectively threaten Netanyahu with a reduction in the billions of dollars a year in aid, trade privileges, loan guarantees, and military equipment sent to Israel by the US. Those goods are in the gift of Congress, and Congress typically yields to AIPAC and its colleagues. As John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have demonstrated in The Israel Lobby, these lobbies cultivate congressmen and senators from the beginning of their careers. The Christian Zionists, who form a significant movement within US evangelicalism, probably number some 10 million, and it is not hard to get them to write their senator on behalf of Israeli expansionism. Pro-Israel organizations and individuals are disproportionately politically active and likely to give to political campaigns.

A recent Israeli government decree that could lead to the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank has stirred extreme anxiety in the region.

Aljazeera English has video on the new rules:

According to the London pan-Arab daily, al-Quds al-Arabi, the Jordanian government fears that Netanyahu and his even more right wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, will engineer clashes between Israeli colonists on the West Bank and the Palestinian villagers on whom they are encroaching, as a pretext for pushing tens of thousands of Palestinians into Jordan.

Certainly, Israeli-Jordanian relations are at their lowest point since the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries — a treaty that King Abdullah II says he is beginning to regret. He worries that Jerusalem is a keg of dynamite, that Gaza and Lebanon could explode into hot war at any time, and even that Israel and Iran may go to war against one another.

Yep, those are the things a person worries about, who knows the region at all well.

19 Responses

  1. A quick note to say thanks. Your posts continue to be enlightening, and the new blog is much easier to read.

  2. ‘ The two sides “may say to themselves, ‘We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,’”
    By apportioning equal blame in an unequal situation, Obama is pushing for an unequal peace.
    That may serve the USA in the short term, it is not however even handed, nor if the word means anything in Realpolitik, fair. Only a fair peace will last.

    • @ Glen

      If there isn’t preparation for a fair and JUST peace, do not expect any peace to last.

      The magic word, Justice, is the shoal that all attempts have so far foundered. Ironically the concept of Justice was embedded in the Jewish contribution to the Judeo-Christian tradition and so lacking in the Zionist approach to Palestine and the Palestinian population. Justice is the demand of the people expelled in 1947, in fear for their lives, at the barrel of Zionist guns. Until every last claim for Justice from that time forward is met, there will be, there can be no lasting peace.

      Of all revolutions and establishment of states in the twentieth century, only two effected a profound dislocation in the prevailing order, the Soviet and Israel. The Soviet followed the French path and became dominated by the autarchy of Stalin supplanting those making the revolution from the exercise of state power (much like Napoleon usurped the state powers of the French revolution from those making the revolution). Only in Israel did those making the revolution retain state powers, unrestrained by a higher civil political authority (as pertained to the American revolution) or by some usurping despot. As a consequence, no cleansing or justification for the atrocities of establishing the state could occur as political power never left the very people who committed the atrocities, this condition pertains to this day, the political masters of Israel have never cleansed their hands of the blood they themselves shed. No possible peace will happen until there is Justice brought to pass and a higher civil authority be established in the governance of Israel to bring about Justice with the Palestinian peoples. Peace will be obtained when the interests of the Palestinians are equally served from Israel as from their own government.

  3. Of COURSE no progress will be made on Israel-Palestine peace. That’s because the Obama administration clearly is not serious about seeking it. Hence, the announcement from the beginning of the administration that it didn’t matter whether Israel continued to expand illegal settlements or not, they would continue to send financial aid. That sent an extremely unambiguous message that the Netanyahu government certainly did not fail to pick up on.

    As we speak, the Obama administration wants to send Israel $3 billion in military aid. Then people wonder why no progress is made on the so-called “peace process”. Well, the reason is perfectly simple to understand.

    These comments from Obama are not hopeful signs at all. They are a cowardly cop-out. He’s basically suggesting he has no power to do anything. Nonsense. He could do a lot, like starting with ending U.S. financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israeli violations of international law.

  4. What a sad predicament. I appreciate that (as I read it) your piece comes across as both a friend to Israel and the Palestinians.

  5. As long as the US continues to fund Israeli expansionism, it is ridiculous to claim that Obama has expended any political capital at all. If you want to see the Two-State Solution take off, stop giving millions of tax-payer dollars a day per Israeli to Israel.

  6. Incidentally calling IRan a “rejectionist” state is quite funny, considering how intent the Israelis are themselves in killing off the two-state solution. Iran has repeatedly said that it would agree to whatever the Palestinians agree to. Israel has been intent on destroying the chance of a two-state solution from Day 1. Who is the “rejectionist” party here?

  7. This is classic Obama – never take a stand if it might offend the Right. The expedient notion of symmetry saves the day. There is an inherent equality between the strong and rich, and the weak and poor, the boot on the neck and the neck.
    ‘ The two sides “may say to themselves, ‘We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,’”

  8. What makes one think that the two state solution would ever going to be feasible is beyond me.
    After forty years of occupations, and human rights violations, over four decades of showing their middle finger to any resolutions that was introduced in the UN.
    Making mockery of half dozen US presidents.
    The blue print was drawn and limits were set from the time of Ben-Gurion.
    One only needs to refer to the history to see the quotes the speeches of David Ben-Gurian and Zionist ideologues like him.
    From the beginning, Zionists advocated a “Jewish State” not just in Palestine, but also in Jordan, southern Lebanon, and the Golan Heights as well. In 1918 Ben-Gurion described the future “Jewish state’s” frontiers in details as follows:
    “….to the north, the Litani river [in southern Lebanon], to the northeast, the Wadi ‘Owja, twenty miles south of Damascus; the southern border will be mobile and pushed into Sinai at least up to Wadi al-‘Arish; and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan”.
    David Ben-Gurian went further and argued;
    “The Palestinian people were incapable by themselves of developing Palestine, and they had no right to stand in the way of the Jews. He argued in 1918, that Jews’ rights sprang not only from the past, but also from the future. In 1924 he declared:
    “We do not recognize the right of the [Palestinian] Arabs to rule the country, since Palestine is still undeveloped and awaits its builders.” In 1928 he pronounced that “the [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to close the country to us [Jews]. What right do they have to the Negev desert, which is uninhabited?”; and in 1930, “The [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to the Jordan river, and no right to prevent the construction of a power plant [by a Jewish concern].
    In other words, the Palestinian people are entitled to no political rights whatsoever, and if they have any rights at all, these rights are confined to their places of residence. Ironically, this statement was written when the Palestinian people constituted 85% of Palestine’s population, and owned and operated over 97% of its lands!
    So you see the Israelis under the leadership of another hawk Mr. Netanyahu are in “Implementation Phase” of of what they have stated over 40 years ago.
    Only those who were either over the board optimists or painfully naive would have bought into this so called peace talk initiatives and the Two State Solution bull craps, and now are collectively holding their breath while yet another president embraces the idea of the two state solution dream.
    Political cleavages CAN become quiet combustible, USA has been sitting nicely in middle of this wide crack for few decades now without regards to the consequences of what will happen when you situate yourself right on top of the fault line when the big one hits!

  9. Peace would not be beyond reach if the US wasn’t so pathetically and hopelessly beholden to Israel.

    “We should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests. No Israeli Prime Minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States,” Mr. Obama said. “When I am president, the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel,” Mr. Obama told the National Jewish Democratic Council in February of 2007.

    link to nysun.com

  10. Wow I love your website which I’ve just stumbled on.

    Thanks for your sound and valued analysis.

  11. a treaty that King Abdullah II says he is beginning to regret.

    I’m not sure what else he could have done. The Israelis would just be doing the same thing they are doing now, and Jordan really, really needed to get back into the graces of the US back then (they picked the losing side of the First Gulf War).

    One problem Obama faces is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a coordinating body for the Israel lobbies, has successfully mobilized both houses of Congress against him with regard to putting further pressure on far rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stop building settlements. Congress decides on how much money to give Israel annually, and how many weapons to sell it. Obama cannot effectively threaten Netanyahu with a reduction in the billions of dollars a year in aid, trade privileges, loan guarantees, and military equipment sent to Israel by the US. Those goods are in the gift of Congress, and Congress typically yields to AIPAC and its colleagues.

    Obama could threaten to veto this and force them to pass it over his head (unfortunately, the support might be broad enough to do this), but that would be political capital burned that he presumably wants to save for domestic political issues (not to mention that it is an election year in Congress).

  12. In a larger and longer context, though, Israel is steadily losing ground against its neighbors. Globalization has finally reached the Middle East, just as it reached Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in the late fifties and sixties. Just look at Syria.

    And Globalization hates walls and wars. Mr Netanyahu and his successors have 20-30 years ahead of them to maintain status quo and expand their settlements on the West Bank. After that the Muslim Middle East, including Iran, will be much too important to the world economy for Israel to be able to maintain it’s position as the Middle East’s only superpower.

    All things must come to an end, so also the current locked situation in the Middle East.

  13. The answer is clear – (1 state solution is the way to go) Key elements-
    1. Fully autonomous Palestine, with all the trappings of citizenship and government
    2. Border control by Israel, with Palestinian participation on their borders
    3. Free movement of people between Israel and Palestine
    4. Equally exchangable currency with NIS (Shekel) and Palestinian notes
    5. Joint ministries on Water, Energy, Tourism….
    6. Palestinian zone is DMZ- no military
    7. Each could maintain capitals in Jerusalem, but the city is not divided.

    Everyone wins in this scenario- there is no way an independent Palestine will have the economic resources and educated population to succeed in global business. A joint Israel/Palestine is good business and people will have appropriate lifestyles and conditions. That is real Peace.

    A 2 state solution with barbed wire and guns targeting the other is not peace.

  14. (1) In view of steady advances in weapons technology, and the relative decline of their main patron, it would be prudent for the Israels to make its peace with the Palestinians now, before things get out of hand.

    (2) Where the hell is J-Street, the dandy new lobby group that was supposed to represent the other half of the Israeli political spectrum? It seems that the U.S. Congress still answers to AIPAC.

  15. In order to have real peace between the Israeli and the Palestinians; The United State must do the following:
    1- The U.S. Policy makers must be honest with themselves and the American people and think of American interest FIRST.
    2- Place a pan on AIPAC and get rid of the Israeli occupation of the U.S. Congress. then
    3- The president of the U.S.A. will have the leverage to tell the Israeli Government to take a hike. then and only then
    4- The Israeli will realize that the Occupation is not beneficial to them.

    Palestinians are victims of not just the Israeli policies but are victims of:
    1- International Community including the U.N.; The U.S.A. leaders’ crowdedness; the Arab Regimes and then the P.A.

    “Wars are never fought for altruistic reasons. They’re usually fought for hegemony, for business. And then of course there’s the business of war.”

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