A article yesterday (written by Sheera Frankel in the Miami Herald) said:
“The Obama administration has secured pledges from senior Mideast leaders to continue peace negotiations until after next month’s U.S. midterm elections, largely to avoid handing the Obama administration an embarrassing diplomatic setback before the Nov. 2 elections.”
My immediate response was a loud “What?” But then I realized that what she seemed to be talking about were the negotiations to discuss negotiations, not real negotiations on peace:
“Israeli and Palestinian officials told McClatchy Newspapers Tuesday that efforts to reach a compromise would continue until at least Nov. 3, a move they said ‘served the current American government.’

“‘The time frame we are following has been designed around the elections in America,’ said a senior member of the Palestinian negotiating team. ‘We have been asked not to issue announcements that could embarrass negotiation officials.'”

This certainly seems a plausible scenario — that the two sides have agreed, at Obama’s behest, not to stop talking about resolving the crisis until after the election, at which point it will all fall apart. Meanwhile Obama and Clinton are able to babble on about the resolution to the impasse coming imminently, and to promote US skill in forging negotiations.
Is the US electorate that naive? I take that back. The US electorate voted for Obama. But maybe they’ve wised up a bit since then.
From my perspective, it seems that a judicious anonymous leak or two to reveal the improbability of that negotiation impasse being resolved might do wonders for helping the US electorate to see matters clearly. Just a matter of telling the truth. But Netanyahu won’t do this, and you and I cannot, of course, because we’re not privy to the inside.
But what we can do is share this article broadly. Send out an e-mail to everyone who would pay attention, put this on blogs and post on discussion group lists. Tell people not to be fooled. Tell them Obama is choreographing matters to help him look good pre-election. Include the three paragraphs in quotes above (paragraphs two, three and four), and the article’s URL:

http://www.miamiherald.com/ 2010/10/19/1881466/israelis- palestinians-leaders.html# ixzz12ylLpO00

Laura Rozen, writing at Politico, says the Obama administration is “really upset” with Netanyahu because he refused to reinstate the freeze for an additional two months in exchange for certain US assurances. (Please note, they’re apparently not “really upset” with Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to come to the table. Or, if they are, they won’t say so, while they volubly express their discontent with Israel.)
To this I say, “All Right!” So far, our prime minister still hasn’t caved. (Although he has conducted himself in a manner that is considerably less than exemplary in another context, see below.)
The package offered to Israel was worked out by Dennis Ross of the National Security Council, speaking for the US, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, for Israel. One of the problems we see right away is that Barak does his own leftist foreign policy. This is a man not to be trusted. The fact that Molcho is involved is troublesome, however, because he is said to have the confidence of the prime minister.
There may have been other elements to the US offer that didn’t make press, but from what I have seen, that “best good faith offer” was sorely lacking.
Echoing Frankel’s article above, Rozen says that everything is on hold until after the election. Obama does not intend to cross swords with us now. What is important from the US perspective, she says, is that members of the administration have convinced themselves that they really tried and did the very best they could with us, and are now justified in getting tougher.
One thought, not yet crystallized, involves pushing forward an American plan for resolving the conflict that might be forced on Netanyahu.
According to former US negotiator Aaron Miller, there is a plan being considered that might either “shut the game down until the locals are ready to play seriously, or gin it up.”
The mere suggestion that the US might consider putting “out…ideas…to close the process down until the two sides are ready to accept [an American proposal]” is good news. It is by far the smartest thing Obama could do: declare the differences between the sides intractable, promote the notion that efforts to bridge those differences have been pursued with vigor, sincerity and great wisdom, and then say that in the end he cannot want it more than the parties do.
There is much talk about Obama trying to avoid a crisis or appearance of failure before the election. But I’m not reading much speculation as to how the results of that election might affect what Obama decides to do next.
I suggest that the election results may be exceedingly important, and that Obama’s ability to come down hard on us might be inhibited by a Republican Congress (which, remember, holds the purse strings). On this we’ll have to wait and see.
According to the Financial Times (London) the Palestinian Arabs are mulling an action to ask the UN Security Council to declare communities (known as “settlements”) in Judea and Samaria, as well as Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line (incredibly, also called “settlement”) to be declared illegal. They think this has a better chance of being approved than asking for full recognition as a state.
See what John Bolton, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has to say about Obama and a Palestinian State:
Ahmed Qurei (aka Abu Ala), former prime minister of the PA and official of the PLO, has now joined the chorus of voices threatening violence if peace talks fail. Speaking in Cairo, he said that the Palestinians don’t rule out the possibility of “armed resistance.”
So what else is new? Anything to avoid honest give and take at the negotiation table.
According to Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost, the PA is resuming efforts to end its conflict with Hamas. Right now a meeting to discuss unity has been put on hold until a venue agreeable to both parties is decided upon.
There is deep enmity between these two parties, such that a really solid unity coalition over a long period seems to me unlikely. But moving in this direction may serve them both for different reasons, and has several implications. There is the whole issue of Hamas in Gaza and prospects of negotiating with an authority that represents only a truncated portion of the Palestinian Arabs, or conversely expecting Israel to negotiate with a unity coalition that includes Hamas. No good solutions here. The only thing that is clear is that this is a ridiculous time to try to make “peace.” This is one of those many things to be watched closely.
Abu Toameh, in the very same issue of the JPost, also tells us that the PA is denying it has set new conditions for returning to the table with Israel (regarding boycotts of Israeli products):
“This report is completely untrue,” said Nabil Sha’ath. “We only have two conditions for resuming the peace talks: a total freeze of settlement construction and the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
Wait! Since when is the lifting of the blockade a condition for Abbas to come to the table? This seems new to me. (Is the Obama administration noticing this??) It is best understood, I would say, by what I just reported, regarding PA overtures to Hamas. Seems the dynamics may be changing.
Israel is now commemorating the fifteen anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. This is always a highly politicized time, with revisionists notions of what Rabin would have accepted within Oslo being promoted.
Yesterday at a Knesset ceremony for Rabin, PM Netanyahu spoke, extensively citing Rabin’s last address to the Knesset, in October 1995:
“We would like this [the final result for Palestinian Arabs under Oslo] to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority [i.e., an autonomy]. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the June 4, 1967 lines, The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of the term.
“Jerusalem would be united as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty that will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev. We came to an agreement and committed ourselves before the Knesset not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement and not to hinder building for natural growth.”
Everyone should be clear on this, Rabin’s red lines. Good that Netanyahu stated it all forthrightly.
However…Netanyahu went on to proclaim (surely for the ears of the Labor contingent of his coalition) that he was willing to do more than Rabin, of Labor, had been willing to do. He, unlike Rabin, who refused to freeze a single settlement, had instituted an “unprecedented” temporary freeze. And while Rabin spoke of less than a state, he was advocating “a demilitarized state,” as long as it recognized the State of the Jewish people.
Is he proud of this? Of having moved past Rabin? It is disgusting.
My dear friends. I know this is long. But there is simply so much to impart. Next I will look at issues regarding Iran that have enormous import. And I may take on Thomas Friedman of the NY Times.
“The Good News Corner”
Dr. Leon Mubenga, a surgeon from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is receiving training in burn treatment and plastic surgery at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. At present such treatment is not available at all in his country:
“Treatment options are few due to limited knowledge and suitable equipment. In contrast to Western countries, many patients with relatively small percentages of burns on their bodies die.”
An organization called Chai Lifeline, underwritten by the Hartman Family Foundation in Chicago, has brought 14 N. American teenagers who have survived cancer, and one parent each, to Israel for a period of ten to celebrate.
They have rejoiced in thanksgiving at the Kotel; toured the Western Wall Tunnels and the City of David; visited Rachel’s Tomb, the Golan Heights, the Dead Sea, and a great deal more.