Wednesday, December 08, 2010

MidEast initiative crashes over Obama's refusal to put it in writing

U.S. Abandons Push for Renewal of Israeli Settlement Freeze -Karen DeYoung

The Obama administration has abandoned its effort to persuade Israel to renew a settlement construction freeze, which U.S. diplomats had hoped would invigorate moribund peace talks with the Palestinians. U.S. officials said that the administration had taken off the table a package of political and security incentives offered to Israel in exchange for a 90-day freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

The U.S. decided not to comply with an Israeli request to put its offer in writing, including $3 billion worth of jet fighters, a commitment to object to anti-Israel resolutions in international organizations, and an agreement never again to ask for a suspension of settlement construction.
(Washington Post)

U.S. Drops Bid to Sway Israel on Settlements -Mark Landler

"Wisely, in my view, the administration is bending to reality," said Robert Malley, a peace negotiator in the Clinton administration.
(New York Times)

Obama Ends Push for Israeli Settlements Halt -Eli Lake & Ben Birnbaum

President Obama has abandoned a two-year policy of trying to persuade Israel to stop some settlement construction as a condition for negotiations with the Palestinians, a major recalibration of the administration's strategy for brokering a deal for a Palestinian state.

A senior Israeli official said the decision to end the settlement freeze was based on a calculation that the Palestinians had expected too much from the Israelis just as a condition of their participation in peace talks. "First of all, the mutual understanding with the Americans was that we could go on forever with this package, it would still not get the Palestinians back to the negotiations table," a senior Israeli official told the Washington Times. "They wanted Jerusalem, they wanted more than three months, they wanted a freeze until negotiations are concluded."

Elliott Abrams, a senior director for Near East and North African affairs for President George W. Bush's National Security Council, said, "We are not seeing a new approach. We are seeing the end of the old approach." He added, "One has to remember the Arabs had not ever insisted on such a precondition. This was something that was added by the administration and it proved to be disastrous." One of the first things the Obama administration did with regard to the peace process was to inform the Israelis that understandings forged under Mr. Bush that limited settlement expansion were no longer U.S. policy.
(Washington Times)

Obama's Settlement Freeze Fold Is Blow to President, Not to Peace 
-Jonathan S. Tobin

[T]he problem with Obama's push for a freeze had little to do with any actual chance for peace and everything to do with the administration's obsession with trying to corner Netanyahu. 

This is no blow to peace. Sensible observers have been saying all along that the Palestinians' lack of interest in a final-status agreement, as well as the split between Hamas and Fatah, ensured the failure of Obama's initiative no matter how much Netanyahu was willing to give up. The blame for the lack of peace belongs to the Palestinians.

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