You recall the fiasco of ‘the peace process’ during the first two years of President Obama’s administration.
On May 26, 2009–just after PM Netanyahu had visited the White House, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had this to say: “The President was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here during his visit to the White House on May 18. He wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interest of the effort that we are engaged in, that settlement expansion cease. That is our position, that is what we have communicated very clearly not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others. And we intend to press that point.”
And the Administration did. And what was the result? The Palestinians, who had never made the ‘settlements’ the critical issue in negotiations with Israel, quit negotiating and made the ‘settlements’ their red line in the sand–unable to be ‘out-Palestinianed’ by President Obama.
The peace process went nowhere.
Now history repeats itself. In response to President Obama’s call for a final peace agreement based on the 1967 lines with land swaps, the Palestinians have again jumped on the Obama bandwagon. Speaking yesterday at the Brookings Institution, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat had this to say: “[If Netanyahu] wants to be a partner he has to say it: Two states on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. I have no quarrel with the United States. If Mr. Netanyahu says he accepts the two-state solution on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, he’s on.”
Obviously, given Netanyahu’s reaction to Obama’s speech, the Palestinians are more interested in driving a bigger wedge between Obama and Netanyahu than they are in pursuing peace.
By the way, what was even more astonishing was that Erekat appeared to drop the Palestinian demand that ‘settlement construction’ cease. Erekat did not cite an Israeli freeze of settlement construction as a precondition for talks (a precondition that Obama also dropped by not mentioning it in his May 19th speech).
The way that the Americans and Europeans do the negotiating for the Palestinians (either unintentionally or intentionally) is pathetic.