Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Abrams on Patriarch Abraham's Land

Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations and was a deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration. He openly contradicted Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

And he has an article, All Process, No Peace which is important and some extracts:

Peace in the Middle East has been on the Obama administration’s mind from the beginning...[and] As the Obama administration begins its second year in office, its Middle East peace efforts are widely regarded as a shambles. Its initial goals have all been missed...

...From the start the White House—led by the president himself and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel—has pushed hardest for Israeli concessions, a reversal of the standard pattern where the legendary Arabists in the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau criticize Israel while top officials defend her. This time, those at the top—including Mitchell and Clinton—publicly and repeatedly demanded a total Israeli construction freeze...The great plan has collapsed, but the mystery of who exactly will be in charge of the policy in Year Two—and whether they understand what happened—is now the center of conversations all over the region...

...So the Obama administration’s Middle East adventures in 2009 came to a close with Netanyahu, whom the administration has never much liked or treated well, stronger politically; and Abbas, whom the administration wished to strengthen, weaker and talking of retirement...But who will tell the president that his judgments have been wrong and his policy is failing? Does he recognize how much bad advice he was given last year? Who among the senior figures is likely to say to this president that George Mitchell is now associated with a policy disaster or that Rahm Emanuel’s read on Israeli politics proved 180 degrees off course?

...The Israelis and Palestinians are too far apart on the core issues to reach a deal now, and the Fatah and PLO leadership (having lost the last elections to Hamas and having lost Gaza to a Hamas coup) is too weak now to negotiate compromises and sell them to the Palestinian people.

...Obama White House personnel like to say the Situation Room has no windows precisely so that people can’t see in. In fact it has three windows that look out at the Executive Office Building, but the error is telling: They want to preserve the sense of mystery. The problem is, the main mystery in the Middle East is whether they’ll cling to a policy that has already failed or open their minds to one that has a chance of bringing serious progress.

And Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed him where he said:

JG: It's my belief that settlements are the vanguard of binationalism, rather than the leading edge of Zionism. But we all acknowledge that some settlements will stay where they are in the framework of a final agreement. Do you think that the maximum Israel can offer on this issue matches the minimum the Palestinians can accept?

EA: If we can separate the issues of Jerusalem and settlements, I think a settlement solution is possible. The offers Barak made at Camp David, and that Olmert made in January 2009, are the maximum Israel can offer and give the Palestinians what they need. Olmert offered an almost one for one territorial swap (actually 99.3%, with the Gaza-West Bank link counting for 0.7% of territory). I am assuming that the Palestinians realize some compromise is necessary, and realize that an exact return to the 1949 armistice lines is not possible. If the minimum the Palestinians can accept is an exact return to the 1949 lines, there will never be an agreement. But I don't believe that; I don't think territory or the settlements are the problem. I believe abandoning the "right of return" is politically far tougher for the Palestinian leaders, and solving Jerusalem is a much harder problem for both sides.


steve klein said...

Mr. Medad, I am pleased President Obama is thus far failing to achieve significant movement with respect to negotiations. Though I did not vote for Obama, I had a hunch he would be less successful than former President George W. Bush, whom I only reluctantly voted for, November 2000. Unlike Bush, Obama has much opposition on his foreign policy. Conservatives and Republicans gave Bush a pass on his anti-Israel, pro-Muslim jihad policies. Conservatives and Republicans gave Bush a pass on all the lies he told about Islam and Israel. Not so Obama. This is a good thing. Maybe a leftist in the White House is better for Israel than a duplicitous conservative.


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