Saturday, 2 October 2010

"Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan,.. Iraq... End our support for Arabs

Via Friday-Lunch-Club

The Oslo Accords of the 1990s -- the poster child for direct negotiations -- ended in disaster, as broken commitments, terror and violence, and unmet expectations overwhelmed Palestinians and Israelis.
Still, the power of direct negotiations is compelling. I'll never forget chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat telling me in a moment of great frustration in 1995 that he could get more from the Israelis directly than he ever could from us.
In the current phase of the peace process, direct talks that build trust between Israelis and Palestinians are vital, of course, but they are not sufficient to reach an agreement. Sooner rather than later, the United States will need to invest itself more heavily in the negotiations in order to bridge gaps on core issues such as borders and the status of Jerusalem; will need to marshal the billions of dollars required to support an agreement; and probably will need to deploy U.S. forces to the Jordan Valley to monitor security arrangements. Without active U.S. involvement, it is unlikely that an agreement can be reached and implemented.
2. The United States is an honest broker in the peace process.
It has been before and can be again. But in the past 16 years, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, we have failed to be as tough, fair and reassuring as we need to be to broker a solution. Our relationship with the Israelis is special -- and it has to be because of Israel's unique security position and the values that bind us -- but if we intend to be a credible mediator, it cannot become exclusive.
We cannot advocate for one side over another or clear our positions with one party in advance; our client must be the agreement itself. And we need to adopt negotiating positions that reflect the balance of interests between the two sides, not use Israel's position as the point of departure for U.S. policy. The challenge for the Obama administration is to find this balance, one that neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush achieved.
3. Settlements are the main obstacle to peacemaking.
On the Israeli side, there is indeed no greater obstacle. For more than four decades, the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank has reshaped Israeli politics for the worse, humiliated Palestinians and made an already complex process even more complicated. And Israel's recent refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction has threatened to undermine the negotiations before they have a chance to get serious.
Successive American administrations have not taken the settlement issue as seriously as needed. The U.S. line has always been the same: Getting to the negotiations is the only way Palestinians can address the settlement issue...
But even if the settlement issue were resolved today, negotiations would still confront another galactic challenge: a crisis within the Palestinian national movement, with two authorities governing two discreet areas with two different security services, two different patrons and two different visions of the Palestinian future. The upshot of the battle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is that without a monopoly over the forces of violence in Palestinian society -- without one authority to silence the guns and rockets -- no agreement can be implemented.
4. Pressuring the Israelis is the only way to reach an agreement.
The idea that the United States can pummel a close ally into accepting a deal that undermines its security or political interests is flat-out wrong. The Middle East is littered with the failed schemes of great powers that tried to impose their will on small tribes... Such declarations make the United States look weak and feckless.
The administration may be learning. To keep the current talks afloat, it seems to be offering both sides assurances on the substance of the negotiations: for the Israelis, security guarantees that might constrain Palestinian sovereignty; for the Palestinians, a commitment on the June 1967 borders, with land swaps from Israel proper for any West Bank territory the Israelis plan to annex. This is risky if the assurances go too far, but it shows that Obama now understands that fighting Israel over settlements is a dead end.
5. Arab-Israeli peace is critical to securing U.S. interests in the Middle East.
It would help, but it wouldn't come close to overcoming our challenges in a region so troubled and turbulent. National security adviser James Jones got caught up in this belief, asserting in 2009 that "if there was one problem that I would recommend to the president [to solve], this would be it."
Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan or facilitate an extrication of U.S. forces from there. It will not create a viable political contract among Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It will not stop Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. It will not force Arab states to respect human rights. Nor will it end anti-American sentiment fueled by our support for authoritarian Arab regimes, our deployment of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, our war against terror and our close relationship with Israel.
In fact, an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that does not prove viable and is not seen as fair will make our position in this region even more difficult. The president shouldn't minimize the importance of Israeli-Palestinian peace, but he shouldn't oversell it, either..."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 10:06 AM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

No comments: