President Obama is throwing in the towel on the peace process; he will not try again in the next 18 months. And he warns Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to turn away from the politics of fear and his inability to see the “best possibilities” in Arabs and Palestinians. And P.S., the U.S. won’t be able to defend Israel at the U.N. anymore.
The president made these statements in an interview with Israeli Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan that aired yesterday. Haaretz says Israeli ministers have been ordered to shut up about the interview.
Netanyahu’s famous lecture of Obama in the White House four years ago? It is repaid here; President Obama is giving the upstart P.M. some free advice. Here’s Obama’s first statement about the politics of fear and Netanyahu’s inability to see the best in others:
I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is somebody who’s predisposed to security, to think perhaps that peace is naive, to see the worst possibilities as opposed to the best possibilities in Arab partners or Palestinian partners. And so I do think right now those politics and those fears are driving the government’s response. And I understand it. But what may seem wise and prudent on the short term can actually end up being unwise over the long term.
And if the status quo is not resolved, because of the demographics, because of the pressures and the frustrations that are going to exist in the West Bank and certainly already exist in Gaza, that over time, Israel is going to have a choice about the nature of the Israeli state and its character, and if it loses its essential values that are enshrined in its Declaration of Independence, that is something that has to be guarded against as well.
Dayan says that despite his last minute campaign promise to never allow a Palestinian state, Netanyahu is actually for a Palestinian state, and has shown he does in recent statements. “He does endorse a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel… Why not take him at his word?” Obama isn’t buying it:
I think when he spoke right before the election, he was fairly unequivocal in saying that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership. As long as he was prime minister, there wouldn’t be two states. Subsequently his statements have suggested that there is a possibility of a Palestinian state, but it has so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met anytime in the near future. And so the danger here is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution. The statement the prime minister made compounded that belief that there’s not a commitment there.
Dayan notes that in his Atlantic interview, Obama referred to Netanyahu’s pre-election statements about Arabs and against two states and said that they will have consequences. This is Haaretz’s story, Obama won’t defend Israel at the U.N. anymore.
The practical consequences I referred to, let’s be very specific, if there are additional resolutions introduced in the United Nations.
Up until this point we have pushed away against European efforts for example, or other efforts. Because we’ve said, the only way this gets resolved is if the two parties worked together. Well, here’s the challenge. If in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult, to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation, it’s more difficult for me to say to them, ‘Be patient. Wait, because we have a process here,’ because all they need to do is to point to the statements that have been made to say, ‘There is no process.’
Now he throws in the towel. Dayan asks, “Do you think there’s a chance of you giving it another try in the next 18 months.”
I don’t see a likelihood of a framework agreement. I don’t see the likelihood of us being able to emerge from Camp David or some other process and hold up hands and say–
Dayan: You’re not that naive?
Again he turns to the politics of fear at the end of this video excerpt.
There’s no doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu and I come from different political traditions and have different orientations. I am less worried about any particular disagreement that I have with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I am more worried about what I described earlier, which is an Israeli politics that’s motivated only by fear. And that then leads to a loss of those core values that, when I was young and I was admiring Israel from afar, were what were the essence of this nation. There are things that you can lose that don’t just involve rockets.
A lecture, and a spiritual one at that.
Thanks to Annie Robbins.