Mondoweiss

Jimmy Carter’s proposal to recognize Palestine is dissed by all the usual suspects

**FILE**Former President Jimmy Carter takes a question during a conference at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Tuesday, June 7, 2005. An independent panel Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005 reversed a Pentagon recommendation that the New London submarine base in Connecticut, base be closed. One of the panel members even said a letter from Carter _ the only president to ever serve as a submariner _ pleading the panel to keep the base open was one of the reasons he voted against closure. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)

As you surely heard, former President Jimmy Carter had a big op-ed in the New York Times two days ago urging President Obama to recognize Palestine in what little time he has left in the White House, as a step to maybe save the two-state solution.
United States recognition of a Palestinian state would… clear the way for a Security Council resolution on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Security Council should pass a resolution laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict. It should reaffirm the illegality of all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders, while leaving open the possibility that the parties could negotiate modifications…

The combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership and a Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy…

This is the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people. Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.

The next day the State Department said it doesn’t care what Carter says:
John Kirby: Well, obviously, we have great respect for former President Carter and for his tireless efforts to achieve peace while he was in office and certainly in the years following his presidency. He’s a great American. Our view hasn’t changed that we believe that the preferred path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations that will lead to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution…
QUESTION: It’s not expected to happen in the next six weeks, is it?

MR KIRBY: I’m not a fortuneteller.

 

Here’s Secretary of State John Kerry’s comment on the conflict, indicating that nothing will happen in the next two months:

“[N]o one has expended as much time as I have to try to move the process forward.”

“But the old saying is real: You can lead a horse to water, you can’t make him drink,” he said. “If they’re not prepared to take the risks – everybody knows what has to be done – but if they’re not ready, then there’s no way to force-feed it. There are, however, other things that we can do that may try to save the possibilities of a two-state solution, and we have to think about that.”

The Associated Press reports that Obama will do nothing in the next two months:

President Barack Obama has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to put pressure on Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians, U.S. officials said, indicating Obama will likely avoid one last row with Israel’s government as he leaves office.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, Obama for more than a year had considered giving a major speech describing his vision for a future peace deal or, in a more aggressive step, supporting a United Nations resolution laying out parameters for such a deal…

Discussions about those potential maneuvers, under way before the U.S. election, have fallen off since Donald Trump’s surprise victory, officials said. Obama is now highly unlikely to approve either of those options presented to him by U.S. diplomats, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss internal deliberations and requested anonymity.

The Israel lobby group AIPAC also got into the act this week, applauding a bipartisan piece of legislation passed by Congress that opposes any “unilateral” efforts to impose a solution, including Carter’s idea–

“any widespread international recognition of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood outside the context of a peace agreement with Israel…”

And just in time, there is also opposition to Carter’s suggestions from two veteran peace processors, liberal Zionist Aaron David Miller and centrist Zionist Dennis Ross. Miller writes at CNN that Carter’s recommendation will “leave the Obama legacy in tatters,” because Donald Trump will only upend the move — and maybe hurt the Israelis’ feelings, too.

As hard as it may be to accept right now, a unilateral move might make matters worse…
First, any initiative undertaken during the presidential transition in the United States would need to address not just Palestinian needs, but those of Israelis, too. No administration I’ve ever served in took a unilateral, consequential step related to the peace process that didn’t bear this fundamental principle in mind…
Second, US recognition of Palestinian statehood would almost certainly buoy Palestinian hopes — but alienate the Israeli government, while having little appreciable impact on the realization of Palestinian statehood.
And of course Israelis would do whatever they wanted, and we’d have nothing to say about it, that’s how the special relationship works, Miller lobbysplains:
In response to any unilateral declaration, the Israelis — already deeply committed to settlements — would likely respond with steps of their own that go beyond what they are already doing, such as building heavily in east Jerusalem, moving forward on the controversial E-1 project and perhaps even annexing portions of the West Bank.
Dennis Ross in the Washington Post seems to be auditioning for a job in the Trump administration. He calls Secretary of State John Kerry’s pursuit of peace “quixotic” and offers advice to Donald Trump on how to bring about the “ultimate deal.”

Can the Trump administration succeed where others have failed? Trump surprised the world by getting elected; if he is to surprise the world on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, he will need to keep the following guidelines in mind:

Ross offers his usual suggestion, Israel should stop building outside the “settlement blocs.” And the Palestinians have to stop trying to “delegitimize Israel in all international forums.”

He says the key is to involve the Arab states as a “cover” for the Palestinians and to “compensate” the Palestinians. That’s code for ending the refugee crisis.

Test privately, therefore, whether Arab state cover is possible in the negotiations. Ironically, both sides need the Arabs — with the Palestinians needing a cover even to talk, much less concede anything, and the Israelis believing only the Arabs can compensate for concessions they make to the Palestinians.

It’s sure looking like another few years of Washington-and-Netanyahu trying to keep the conflict on perpetual hold.

BTW, the other night at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, Jonathan Kuttab, the Palestinian human rights lawyer, said it’s not about statehood anyway; the two-state solution is over; and having a flag and passports means nothing to Palestinians if they are still occupied and don’t have rights. That’s going to be the real debate, going forward in the one-state reality.