woensdag 5 mei 2010

Ruzie over nederzettingen tussen VS en Israel over?

 
Volgens sommige commentatoren is de crisis tussen Israel en de VS over, en heeft de VS geaccepteerd dat Israel niet aan alle eisen kon voldoen, terwijl Israel zijn goodwill heeft getoond door er een aantal wel in te willigen. Maar in feite heeft alleen Israel concessies gedaan. Algemeen wordt aangenomen dat er een stilzwijgende afspraak is dat er voorlopig niet meer in Oost Jeruzalem wordt gebouwd, ondanks Netanjahoes ontkenning hiervan. De VS schijnen dat aan de Palestijnen per brief te hebben meegedeeld, en op die voorwaarde was men bereid de indirecte onderhandelingen te herstarten. De Palestijnen hebben daarvoor niks in ruil hoeven geven, de 'toegeving' indirecte onderhandelingen te starten was genoeg. Slim spel.
 
And this will not be the last concession given away for free, because unilateral concessions always invite more concessions. Benjamin Netanyahu was the one who insisted on the principle of mutuality. Remember? "If they don't give, they won't get." What did Bibi get in return for the building freeze?
 
So something did happen, after all. And more such somethings will happen along the way. There is no use pretending otherwise or wringing our hands and blaming Obama, nor is it realistic to insist that Netanyahu should have stood his ground. He had maneuvered himself and Israel into a position where he had no choice whatever. One reason it happened is because there were no Israeli demands on the table at all. Nobody said, "We will only resume peace talks if..." on the Israeli side. With no demands, you get no concessions.  
 
Israel heeft haar eisen, zoals erkenning als Joodse staat en opgeven van het recht op terugkeer, al eerder laten varen, want de Palestijnen gingen ze toch niet inwilligen en niemand was van plan ze daartoe te dwingen. Het was misschien beter geweest ze weer van stal te halen, om ze tegen de Palestijnse eisen te kunnen uitspelen, al was het de vraag geweest of de VS daarin was meegegaan.
 
RP
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Much Ado about nothing??

 
Something very interesting is happening very quietly. The Obama Administration appears to have forgotten about its quarrel with Israel, in part because it is being reported with increasing reliability that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has quietly agreed to suspend all construction in eastern or northern Jerusalem outside the 1967 lines. .
 
Goodness, gracious! This administration's great achievement isn't going to be making peace in the Middle East but succeeding in achieving Israel-PA negotiations! I can practically hear the 2012 presidential election ads now: President Obama Got the Israelis and Palestinians Talking!
Sometimes this administration's foreign policy seems like a man who wants a glass of water, exits the building instead of going to the water cooler, gets lost, falls into several holes, narrowly escapes being hit by some cars, and finally arrives home after a very long time. He takes a look at the empty glass in his hand, looks into the camera, and then confidentally announces to the audience: "Now, I am going to get a glass of water!"
 
Nothing happened? Well not exactly nothing. In the very best and most optimistic case, Israel gave up a bargaining point and got what in return? Nothing. N*O*T*H*I*N*G. Zilch.

The Palestinians did not agree to say "itbach al yahud" one less time. They didn't agree to rename Dalal al Mughrabi square (a square named for a terrorist who killed an American tourist among others) to Rabin square or anything else. They didn't agree to stop teaching kids that Haifa is the largest port in "Palestine." The Americans didn't even agree to enforce their own sanctions laws against Iran. The Americans did not agree to renew the Bush commitment regarding settlement blocks, or to take a firm position against the bogus "right of return" of Palestinian refugees. The United States didn't convince even the tiniest Arab principate to allow the wingtips of an El-Al airplance to cross their airspace. 
 
Benjamin Netanyahu got nothing in return for his concession except humiliation. A better analogy than the man who goes to get a glass of water is that Benjamin Netanyahu is like a salesman in the suq, trying to sell a rug. He tells Obama, "I want 150 dinars for this rug." Obama pulls a gun and says, "Give me the rug for zero dinars. That is a better price," and Bibi gives him the rug, wetting his pants in the process. Netanyahu the rug salesman made a good bargain, since he avoided having his brains blown out. That's worth a rug, no? But Netanyahu the Prime Minister made a bad bargain, since all he got in return was that America called off the dogs for a bit. They'll be back of course, since the dogs are hungry, and they are going to blame Israel when the "peace process" stalls out again.
 
In one scenario there will eventually be a peace agreement. In the best case, in return for giving up the Jewish quarter of the Old City, the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus and a few other things, Israel might then be allowed to keep Ramat Eshkol and French Hill, and to build there once again. This will now be considered a major Palestinian "concession."  As for Ramat Shlomo, the Palestinians will say, "Why, there are so few families there, it is really an Arab neighborhood. You conceded that it is Arab when you stopped building there."
 
But there probably won't be a peace agreement. Not a real one. So Israel will be stuck with the building freeze, at least until the end of the Obama presidency. It is not realistic to believe that Israel will be allowed to resume building in the West Bank and Jerusalem when the peace talks fail, or even to assume that there will be a definite point at which everyone will agree that the peace talks failed. The Obama administration cannot allow the peace talks to fail, so by definition, they will not fail, even if they do not succeed.
 
And this will not be the last concession given away for free, because unilateral concessions always invite more concessions. Benjamin Netanyahu was the one who insisted on the principle of mutuality. Remember? "If they don't give, they won't get." What did Bibi get in return for the building freeze?
 
So something did happen, after all. And more such somethings will happen along the way. There is no use pretending otherwise or wringing our hands and blaming Obama, nor is it realistic to insist that Netanyahu should have stood his ground. He had maneuvered himself and Israel into a position where he had no choice whatever. One reason it happened is because there were no Israeli demands on the table at all. Nobody said, "We will only resume peace talks if..." on the Israeli side. With no demands, you get no concessions.  
 
Ami Isseroff
 

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