By Ted Belman
Barack Obama, when running for President the first time, surrounded himself with a host of vehemently anti-Israel advisors including Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Gen Jones, many of whom advocated imposing a solution on Israel. In his second administration, Samantha Power is U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Chuck Hagel is Secretary of Defense and Martin Indyk is one of the peace process facilitators, all of whom support ’67 lines plus swaps and wouldn’t be adverse to imposing such a solution on Israel.
He also made common cause right from the beginning with Jewish leftists represented by J Street and Israel Policy Forum who were urging him to increase the pressure on Israel and if that didn’t work, to impose a solution.
So it was no surprise that he started his first term of office by attacking Israel by declaring that all settlements were illegitimate and demanding a complete settlement construction freeze east of the green line including in Jerusalem. He went so far as to repudiate the US commitment set out in the Bush letter ’04 to Sharon, declaring there was no agreement. Elliot Abrams and others involved in the negotiations which led to the letter, testified otherwise.
This letter affirmed, inter alia, that “as part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338.” Noticeably absent was any reference to the Saudi Plan which required full withdrawal to the armistice lines. The letter also contained a commitment, that, ”the United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan”.
By repudiating this letter as a U.S. commitment, Pres Obama opened the way for a settlement to be imposed according to the Saudi Plan rather than Res 242. He has since come out in support of a solution based on the ‘67 lines plus swaps.
He had set a goal of achieving an agreement within two years. He failed to do so in four years but did make progress.
He forced PM Netanyahu to agree to a two-state solution which he did in his Bar Ilan speech, providing the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state and agree to be demilitarized. Even with these provisos, this was the first time a Likud prime minister agreed to a two state solution.
These terms leave very little wiggle room so it did not matter that Pres Obama agreed to PM Netanyahu’s demand that there be no pre-conditions or that negotiations would not start where Ehud Olmert left off.
He also got Netanyahu to agree to a temporary construction freeze, not near what he was demanding, but enough to enable him to get Abbas and the Arab League to agree to the proximity talks.
The U.S. managed to accomplish this by sending a document to the Palestinians responding to their enquires which provided, “We expect both parties to act seriously and in good faith. If one side, in our judgment, …read more