It must be an act. They can’t be serious, can they? First US envoy George Mitchell told both Israel and Palestine to refrain from any activity that could crash “indirect negotiations,” minimalist statements without reference to the actual situation.
A good diplomat to be sure, but a good soldier too.
Then, amid a flurry of US backtracking from Palestinian support, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Jerusalem to declare a “moment of real opportunity” in the Middle East.
In an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth he urged, "We have got to ensure now that we will give the talks every chance of succeeding. The key is holding talks with goodwill, so that both sides come to the table with serious intentions. If the talks develop, we believe that we'll be able to bridge the gaps and that the conflict will be ended.”
Those are some mighty strong words, but Biden is infamous for outlandish statements. He also praised Israel’s willingness to “take risks for peace.”
Anyone can see Israel’s recent actions with their own eyes, and that the Palestinians, while once again backing down to US pressure, show no hope for America’s latest “last resort." The Middle East is rife with skepticism created largely by Israel and President Obama’s inability to change its behavior or US policy with Jerusalem.
“Indirect negotiations” are a response to the pessimism created by Obama, not optimism, and Biden knows it. Obviously he can’t say it, so he had to take the same road as Mitchell and caution both sides to remain calm, as if the Palestinians had started the latest flare up.
Here are Biden’s “serious intentions” - they reflect Obama's own seriousness.
Israel can’t personally challenge him either, but that hasn’t stopped it from sounding off on his “indirection negotiations.” Irritated that it’s wasting time Israel prefers direct talks and, for some reason, believes they’re right around the corner. Later on Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said from Jerusalem, "I hope the proximity talks will quickly lead to direct talks that would really allow the promotion of peace."
During a Monday morning hearing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak similarly disclosed,“I am among those who believe that direct talks would have been preferable, but in the current conditions today, even indirect talks were difficult to achieve.”
Barak then rejected the notion that Israel has impeded final status negotiations, dumping blame on the Palestinians.
“I believe it was not easy, not just because of us. The hardships that I believe were created are the fruit of what is going on today in the Arab world. There are differences in approaches and emphases regarding negotiations with Israel.”
Israel has refused to accept any responsibility right up to this moment. How serious. And still America still sits silently, handcuffed. We get it, Biden is telling Netanyahu to chill out in private because he can’t come out in public. At least he should be. Coming out in public would derail the talks by their own hands.
Instead they’ll tell you everything is wonderful and then stab you with selfishness, indifference, obliviousness, and fantasy.
Biden, having little to say on Palestine, spent most of his time hyping the Iran threat while playing down an Israeli strike. But nothing can cover the roots of of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the US-Israeli side, which is one of the roots itself, the ultimate goal of a two-state solution is Israel’s security.
An “upbeat” Netanyahu said upon Biden’s arrival, “I believe we will succeed in advancing the diplomatic process. But the diplomatic process is not a game, it is real, and rooted first and foremost in (Israel's) security."
“The truth is that in the end, there is a deep and real need that stems from Israel’s interest in defending its identity,” said Barak, backing up Netanyahu. “We have the utmost interest in drawing a border within which a Jewish majority is stable for generations, next to which is an economically and politically viable Palestinian state.”
And Biden echoed them both: "There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel's security, our mutual security - none at all.”
He saw no contradiction in saying, “The interests of both the Palestinians and the Israeli people, if everyone would just step back and take a deep breath, are actually very much more in line than they are in opposition.”
As if Israel’s security is the Palestinian’s primary concern. Naturally they view the ultimate goal of final-status negotiations as a sovereign Palestinian state that can secure themselves from Israel. That is the bridge America must divide if it’s serious about the process, not settlements or borders.
Notice the absence of “military” in Barak’s conception. Israel wants a de-fanged Palestine and control the airspace and borders. Without sovereignty in security, politics and economics can be operated like a colony. Perhaps this is what Israel wants.
The truth is that US and Israeli officials are putting on an exhibition in doublespeak, but though their delusion is certainly an act, you never really know to what degree.
Last night, during his speech, Barak made the claim, “Israel has enough deterrence and is strong enough to march toward agreements from a point of strength and security, but a diplomatic agreement will not happen if there is not willingness on both sides.”
It was Barak who authorized Monday’s settlements in the West Bank. Why the exceptional rush? Security concerns. Israel must not be strong enough to march towards an agreement. Barak has two mouths - they all do.
"Nobody knows exactly what they are doing," Israeli President Shimon Peres said of Iran, when that description equally applies to his own state.
Any language can be learned though and US-Israeli doublespeak doesn't sound good for the Palestinians or the Middle East.