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Monday, May 23, 2011

Problems With Obama's Speech to Israel

Nadene Goldfoot
President Obama has thrown quite a wrench at Israel with wanting Israel to take BOLD ACTION.  Israel has taken lots of bold action already and the only thing I see from the Palestinians is warfare.  Israel has:
  1. Withdrawn from the Sinai which is land 3 times larger than pre-1967 Israel
  2. Gave up oil fields it developed there (which would have made Israel self sufficient for oil)
  3. Left Gaza in the name of peace
  4. Believed and trusted in Arafat's word of renouncing terrorism, allowed a return of 10,000 plus militia (armed terrorists) there, costing the lives of about 1,500 Israelis.  The promise was not kept.

Now again bold action from Israel  is asked for without expecting anything from the Palestinians.  Nothing has been asked of the Palestinians.

First and foremost, how can Israel be expected to negotiate with Fatah and Hamas who have united?  Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to even exist and is constantly at war with her.  This is the main impasse, and all other talk seems to amount to bubkas. One cannot make peace with people that hate you and want your demise.  They wouldn't make promises and if they did they would break them as they have in the past.  A peace pact has to mean something between parties that have more at stake.  That's why Israel has been so accomodating in the past ; it wanted peace.  Abbas wouldn't even come to the table and be serious  because he knew he was joining up with Hamas again. 

President Obama's approach differs from former President Bush's approach.  Obama has changed key elements of US policy with the Arab-Israeli questions profoundly.  The problem of the borders of Israel and Palestine have been taken back to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, states Obama's policy.  Bush didn't mention any baseline and was most careful to refer only in negative terms to the 1949 Armistice lines, saying that these wouldn't be the final outcome of negotiations.  The Bush letter was endorsed by the House and Senate in a non-binding concurrent resolution, H.Con. Res.460.  Hillary Clinton, Senator even voted for it.  Obama has departed from these terms, and may call into questions the value of such Presidential assurances, including his own, which would make these negotiations even more difficult.  In other words, assurances from the USA wouldn't mean anything. 

At Camp David in 2000, President Clinton offered compromises and dictated the "Clinton Parameters" in private to the parties without giving them copies and without a map of land swaps so that they themselves could record it, explains Dennis Ross.  They were told that if they couldn't accept Clinton's ideas, this was the culmination and we would withdraw them.  We didn't want to formalize it.  Even today the Palestinians haven't presented to their own people what was available in the proposal. 

President Obama is not following Clinton's plan which was to avoid providing the baeline for future negotiations if his peace efforts failed. 

The biggest issues I see after recognition would be :
1. The future of JerusalemThe mayor has already stated that to divide this city is impossible. 
2. Return of Palestinian refugees(I must mention here that the very youngest returnee would be 63 years old now.  The Palestinians want not only those that were alive in 1948 but all their thousands or millions of descendants.  Muslims allow at least 4 wives and each one can have at least 10 children.  Israel already has about one million 400 thousand Arabs as citizens, those that did not leave in 1948).  There are only about five million Jews making up Israel.  Anymore Arabs and it would not be the Jewish state it was meant to be.  After allowing the return already of 10,000 terrorists next door, it would be unrealistic to allow all these people into a Palestine whose goal is to destroy Israel, and impossible if they want to return to Israel itself. 

Clinton thought of having a fund of $30 billion internationally for compensation to cover repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation costs.  At a time that the world is in deep financial trouble, is it practical to move people who are permanently residing in another country and pay for such a move?  What problems are they facing in their lives that they need to do such a thing?  What problems would this create for Israel?  Obama didn't mention this but it's something to foresee the future if this is comes about.

Bush gave the promise of fostering the dismantling of Hamas yet the Palestinians were encouraged to have a democratic voting process and voted them in.  They were to have no group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into these two areas any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex I.  This is laughable.  That's what has been going on in Gaza most of all.  Such promises are ludicrous.   There is nothing to safeguard such empty promises except Israel. 

There is the proviso of the Palestinians anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and the supplemental Appropriations Act , 2009 which bar funding to any entity related to Hamas and any government which includes Hamas.  Hamas not only refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist but has attacked Israeli citizens thousands of times from suicide bombings to rocket attacks.  This Hamas group is a recognized terrorist organization by the USA and  the European Union.  Now aid to the Palestinian Authority should be barred by law.  Besides that, omitting the US concerns about Hamas is a departure from past presidential policies and promises to Israel.  The USA was to join others in dismantling terrorist organizations.  I haven't seen this happen at all concerning Hamas. 

Obama's speech includes spelling out  what the territorial outcomes would be.  This hardens positions and makes compromise more difficult.  Previously, Bush and Clinton have not done this.  Obama has broken from key elements of US policy for the past decades.  Though he tells Palestinians that delegitimizing Israel will end in failure and says the USA is committed to Israel's security, expects more give from Israel allowing Palestinians to take once again. 

Great Britain promised that the future Jewish state would be much larger than what they wound up with, but they broke their promise, the Jews getting half of the original offer.    Ben Gurion took the offer despite this.  He must have been thinking of the old saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two  in the bush."  The Palestinians didn't take the half that was offered to them.  Instead they've preferred fighting the Jews ever since.  They really didn't need their own state or they would have taken what was offered gladly, like the Jews did. 

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