[News] No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 21 10:53:35 EDT 2009
No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 May 2009
Seldom has an encounter between an American and Israeli leader been
as hyped as this week's meeting between US President Barack Obama and
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As expected, Obama
committed himself to diplomacy with Iran and pledged an enormous
effort to achieve a two-state solution. Netanyahu continued to incite
confrontation with Iran and refused to commit himself to a Palestinian state.
On the surface it may seem there are real differences and that the
forces arrayed on each side -- including the formidable Israel lobby
-- are gearing up for an epic battle to determine the fate of
But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that
view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel
as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement
construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered
no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the
contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize
relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.
Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama applies
unprecedented pressure to force Israel to make a deal with the
Palestinians. What would such a deal look like? The outlines were
suggested in the recent report sent to Obama by a group of US elder
statesmen headed by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.
The document, warning that there was only a "six to twelve month
window" before all chances for peace evaporated, called on the US to
forcefully advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. But this
would be a demilitarized truncated state "based on" the 1967 borders.
Israel would annex large West Bank settlements and there would be no
right of return for Palestinian refugees. This "state" would be
occupied indefinitely by a NATO-led "multinational force," which the
Scowcroft group suggests could also include Israeli soldiers (see
last chance for a two-state Israel-Palestine agreement, 2009).
Of course the Scowcroft proposal does not necessarily represent Obama
administration thinking, but it expresses the pervasive peace process
industry consensus that views such an outcome as "reasonable,"
"pragmatic" and all but inevitable, and it accords with Obama's own
statements opposing the right of return and supporting Israel's
demand to to be recognized as a "Jewish state."
In other words, what the vast majority of Palestinians would view as
a horrifying plan to legitimize their dispossession, grant Israel a
perpetual license to be racist, and turn the apartheid regime set up
by the Oslo accords into a permanent prison, is now viewed as bold
and far-reaching thinking that threatens to rupture American-Israeli bonds.
Netanyahu has little to lose by embarking on another "peace process"
after making a show of resisting American pressure (or extracting
more American concessions or money). He knows the chances of ever
getting to the stated destination are nil. Obama will not apply
significant pressure, and even if he did, it is unclear on whom he
would apply it, since on the Palestinian side there are no leaders
ready, willing and able to carry off a second Oslo-style fraud
against their people.
Obama reportedly believes peace in Palestine is the key to
transforming US relations with the "Muslim world." If he were serious
about this, the US would have to break with all its past policies and
support peace based on democratic and universal human rights
principles and equality -- something incompatible with a commitment
to Israel as a "Jewish state" practicing legalized discrimination.
All the signs are however that the Obama administration will push to
try to force Palestinians and Arabs to accept and normalize Israel as
it is and that the US will continue to underwrite a morally and
politically bankrupt Zionist settler-colonial project with a
permanent American military, economic and diplomatic bailout.
The real problem for US-Israeli relations is not to be found in
whether Netanyahu utters the magic words "two-state solution." Rather
it is that after Gaza it is impossible to keep peddling the fiction
that Israel is a brave, self-reliant liberal democracy deserving of
unconditional support. No matter what this administration does, this
will eventually result in pressure on Israel -- such as growing
American public support for the global boycott, divestment and
Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of
<http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/store/548.shtml>One Country: A
Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan
Books, 2006). This article was originally published by
and is republished with permission.
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