Henry Siegman is cynical (at the National Interest) about Obama’s concessions to Netanyahu. Note Siegman’s blistering tone. Note the frank description of Palestinian rightlessness (emphasis mine). Siegman’s piece highlights the amazing fact that East Jerusalem is free for Netanyahu’s picking:
That said, it really should not come as a great surprise to President Obama that Netanyahu seems to believe it is Israel’s prime minister, not the White House occupant, who determines U.S.–Middle East peace policy. In the wake of President Obama’s recent proposal to lavish a stunning cornucopia of gifts on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—giving away Palestinian rights that were not his to give—reportedly in return for nothing more than Netanyahu’s agreement to talk to President Mahmoud Abbas for another two months (which Netanyahu, in turn, disdainfully rejected because he thought he could obtain even more), it is not an unreasonable conclusion.
How else to understand what Vice President Joe Biden told Netanyahu on November 8 in New Orleans before a gathering of Jewish Federation officials that differences between Israel and the United States on the subject of construction in Jerusalem and in the West Bank are nothing more than “tactical in nature.” Is the continuation of Israel’s military occupation and its denial of all rights to millions of Palestinians for nearly half a century nothing more than a minor tactical issue for the United States? Is that what President Obama told the Arab and Muslim world in his speech in Cairo?
President Obama will have to take his own words about the Middle East peace process and its deep moral and strategic implications for America more seriously than he has so far if he expects Bibi Netanyahu to do so as well.
Steve Walt is also pessimistic, and also talks about East Jerusalem. He says Obama must threaten to expose Israel’s gameplaying if the talks fail, as a way of making Israel play fair. Note his reference to the original Partition plan as a fair one. I.e., half and half more or less. Strawson says that Partition had to be imposed. Where’s the imposition, ever? Walt:
All told, Netanyahu got a pretty big reward for being recalcitrant. At first glance, there’s not much to stop him for halting some (but not all) settlement building, digging in his heels for 90 days, and then going back to business-as-usual….
And remember: The goal here is a viable Palestinian state, not a bunch of disarmed and disconnected Bantustans. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all made it clear a viable state for the Palestinians is the only alternative that the United States can get behind. It is what the original U.N. partition plan in 1947 called for, and all the other alternatives (binational democracy, ethnic cleansing, or permanent apartheid) are either impractical or directly at odds with U.S. values.