March 10, 2010

Palestinians Red Light Obama

A precipitous fall that didn’t fall that far. Maybe it’s a good thing everything broke down now rather than in three months, gives everyone time to regroup. Nobody took “indirection negotiations,” a leading phrase of 2010, too seriously.

No harm no foul, right?

After America failed to reverse Israel's latest settlement plans, Mahmoud Abbas conveyed his decision to Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, to red light the White House’s poor attempt at re-branding final-status negotiations and a two-state solution.

"The Palestinian president decided he will not enter into those negotiations now,” Moussa said, “the Palestinian side is not ready to negotiate under the present circumstances. Our position now is we reject the Israeli message. Abu Mazen [Abbas] is not ready to enter talks; it's useless.”

We can’t say this was the last attempt because a better product would be expected, and the White House will try again. Last week had the look of three sides who expected this attempt to fail and for another one to come around the corner. But whatever the future holds, US-Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are frozen until further notice.

Obama is trapped in his own illusion. In reality he has little say of the peace process, its own trap. His speeches on Israel and Palestine are written by Israeli lobbyists/US officials, his entire circle is pro-Israel, all driving down “his” policy.

He’s not in control of this policy battleground and it shows - he's afraid to enter the public debate.

US officials can renege on its agreements, verbal or written, with the Palestinians; they can't disguise the fact that America is to blame for the current crash. The White House has enabled Israel since its founding all the way up to the present, and the last five days are a microcosm of the last five years.

"This is a global message of American weakness and Israeli arrogance," said Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.

While Obama’s off selling health care across America, as he should be, he’s also in another world than the Middle East. Moussa disclosed, "The talks have already stopped,” adding, "the insults have reached a point that not a single Arab could accept.”

Nor Muslims in general or the EU, who yesterday took a dig by endorsing the Goldstone report, or even US officials left holding the bag and mumbling excuses to both parties. Moussa said the Arab League will convene in the near future to formally vote on the matter, but the only possible way of avoiding a down vote is if Israel retracts its latest settlement approvals, an unlikely occurrence.

Israel cannot give ground on the issue, not just for political and religious reasons but because pure mass dictates it cannot.

The reality is far worse than 1,600 units. Abbas, Moussa, and about a billion people cited those 1,600 units in East Jerusalem as the deal breaker, but according to the Jerusalem Post another 7,000 units are under consideration within 18 plans. The 1,600 were just a portion of the overall project and could be approved at any time.

Then there’s this Haaretz headline: Israel planning 50,000 housing units in East Jerusalem. Israeli officials are already in denial mode. This is a fraction of the reality America is trying to mask and why it's failing. The three parties will play again, but the present game is over.

The wait for violence continues.

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