Last week John Kerry made headlines saying that the two-state solution is expiring, and governments must act:
So there’s an urgency to this, in my mind, and I intend, on behalf of the president’s instructions, to honour that urgency and see what we can do to move forward.
But wait; if it’s so urgent to move forward, why did Obama make a point of bringing Eliot Engel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz with him on Air Force One last month to Israel and Palestine? Both these powerful congresspeople — Wasserman Schultz being the chair of the Democratic National Committee — have undermined the Obama administration on the issue.
At that same House Foreign Affairs hearing at which Kerry spoke, Engel made a statement blaming Palestinians for the breakdown in negotiations. Most of his statement was about Iran, then we got this:
I also want to congratulate President Obama on his tremendously successfu l trip to Israel and for fully funding aid to Israel in the budget request. I had the pleasure of traveling with the President to Israel, where he worked to strengthen the eternal bond between Israel and the United States, and was received enthusiastically by the Israeli people. Mr. Secretary, Israel has repeatedly emphasized that it seeks unconditional, direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and I applaud the Administration for urging the Palestinians to accept that offer. Regrettably, the Palestinians keep raising one condition after another, casting doubt on their commitment to ending the conflict with Israel.
Not a word about settlements.
For her part, Wasserman Schultz has called the settlements “so-called settlements” and “suburbs” of Jerusalem. From October 2011, to Haaretz, a piece called “Obama’s Other First Lady”:
“President Obama’s position is not any different from any other administration, settlement policy hasn’t changed in the United States from when President Clinton or Bush was in office,” [Wasserman Schultz] explains. “The policy is not different about so-called settlements. If you go to them it would be difficult to look at any of these suburbs and call them settlements because it’s a very dramatic difference in perception of what people think settlements look like, versus what these neighborhoods really look like.”
And last summer Wasserman Schultz held the line at the Democratic convention when the platform almost left out language calling Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Obama himself was said to be “absolutely livid” when that language was not included in the platform.
When Wasserman Schultz actually visited Jerusalem last month following her highfalutin plane ride, she and Engel tweeted their excellent adventures in the Old City, which they consider to be Israel. They also embraced Naftali Bennett, the rightwing Israeli leader who has declared there will never be a Palestinian state.
I have no idea what the Obama administration’s policy is here.