Online gamers are familiar with lag. Political lag is just as annoying and potential fatal. In computers the source of lag is the internet connection, a weak signal or slow modem. Moscow just witnessed its own disconnect.
First interference jammed the signal. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) had sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, subtly implying that she possesses more control of US-Israeli policy than Obama.
Calling for an end to US-Israeli public acrimony, the Jerusalem Post reports that the letter, drafted ahead of AIPAC’s conference, “along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.”
Clinton had earned her check all week and today was no different.
During a press conference after the Quartet adjourned their meeting, Clinton said of her phone call with Netanyahu, where he rejected a settlement freeze, "What I heard from the prime minister in response to the requests we made was useful and productive.”
Of the White House’s “decision to escalate” pressure on Israel, "I think we're going to see the resumption of the negotiation track and that means that it is paying off because that's our goal."
How Clinton managed to make these statements while in Moscow can be attributed to lag, similar to a Fox News report that Obama and Netanyahu will meet next Tuesday. The White house later denied the report.
Before speaking to the press herself, the Quartet issued a call for a total settlement freeze in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Clinton, brimming as if inhabiting another reality, couldn’t have stuck out more as she applauded Israel’s commitment to the peace process. Expecting gestures of goodwill, we can assume one of them won’t be a settlement freeze.
The Quartet’s position was markedly different from America, focused equally on Israel and the Palestinians. Implementation is another problem, but the Quartet has chipped away at US mediation, an admission by the greater international community that America once again went soft on Israel and cannot be trusted as an honest broker.
"Arab-Israeli peace and the establishment of a peaceful state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is in the fundamental interests of the parties, of all states in the region, and of the international community," UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said.
Of course a lag persists between the Quartet and the Palestinians, but today was a step in the right direction. Now America is lagging behind the world. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, welcomed the Quartet's condemnation of Israeli settlement building, and in his eagerness to diminish US unilateralism called for the Quartet to monitor Israeli activities on the ground.
Clearly insulted by “don’t ask, don’t tell” rumors, Erekat demanded, “We want the Quartet to have the Israeli government, to monitor their actions, to monitor their activities on the ground, because they're playing many games of deceit on the ground - they say now 'we're not going to announce more settlements, but we're going to continue with settlements'. That is deceit.”
"I think it's really more than words," he told CNN, "because this is coming at a time when the international community is at its feet now as regards Israeli settlement activity and Netanyahu is still being defiant. Netanyahu is defying the whole international community now and he 's insisting to continue settlement activity, and he's telling the world, 'Look, I'm going to fool you - I'm not going to announce any tenders anymore, but I am going to continue with settlements.'"
The Palestinians cannot agree to any talks, indirect or direct, until America catches up to the Palestinian’s position and now the Quartet’s. Excessive static in Washington and Jerusalem is interfering with this transmission.
If it persists the Palestinians should switch to international mediation as the replacement connection.