American presidents love it. They love Israel’s strengths and her weaknesses, Israel’s steadfastness and proclivity to just give in and try again. Maybe that is why that despite an Arab world around her that has erupted in violence and chock filled with unstable governments, rulers and dictators—all that can be done is that Israel make concessions and take chances.
Why do President’s like Barrack Obama despite all the difficulties in hot spots like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and countless others, gravitate back to Israel which frequently looks to them like the only possibility where weak and uncertain presidents can achieve some kind of foreign policy success?
Israel has a fair position and that is that peace with the Palestinians be a two way street. That means you want something, you have to give something. Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry seem to have acknowledged and even expressed support for that position. But so far the early developments in this area do not support the Israeli position.
The key Israel position is a return to negotiations without pre-conditions. So what do we get as a response to that after Mr. Kerry meets this past weekend with PA President Abbas in Jordan—that the Palestinians with agree negotiate if Israel releases Palestinian prisoners. Um, hello, but that is a pre-condition.
And then all we need do is look slightly up the road to see more of the same. And that includes the need for Israel to make substantive sacrifices and concessions while in our new two way street formula, all the PA Arabs need do is subsist from something they should not have been doing in the first place.
This is what the brokers to the process would like. For Israel to release prisoners that have been complicit in killing Jews (with a good chance they will return to their old terrorist ways). Israel has to give up building in settlement communities so that people who have made their lives there for decades cannot live normally. Israel has to withdraw security forces from additional areas and turn them over to the control of the Palestinian security people. This formula has been working out recently but always runs the risk of erupting into violence.
Also, at some point Israel will have to acknowledge in some fashion that they are willing to share Jerusalem—even if the whole idea is a subterfuge and a ruse, as in the past.
What do the West Bank Arabs have to do in return? They have to promise not to seek statehood at the UN (a failed idea from the start). They have to agree not to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (I say let them go as Israel can legally tie them up there for many years). They have to try to curb the systematic propaganda that refuses to recognize Israel (this sis somewhere between impossible and very difficult). In other words they have to try not to do a few very damaging things that have set back their ambitions for decades while Israel needs to make substantive sacrifices and this is just to get the process started.
It sounds like one big ball of Palestinian and US pre-conditions with good news for Israel attached to it. And the good news is the old news—it’s just not going to work.