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Secretary Clinton: Mideast Peace Still Possible

November 10, 2010

I give her credit for her endless patience.

This week Israel announced upwards of 1300 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move which has the Palestinian Authority threatening to go to the UN to have a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. The problem, of course, is the US will never allow it, would veto it and the facts on the ground have changed so much (thanks to expanding settlements) that Israel would just ignore the UN dictate. In a perfect world the Palestinians should be able to do this, but it’s far from a perfect world.

From Haaretz:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that a peace deal in the Middle East was still possible and necessary, despite a renewed row over Israeli construction on land the Palestinians want for a state.

Clinton told reporters in a joint video conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad Israel’s recently announced plan to construct 1,300 homes in East Jerusalem and 800 more in the West Bank settlement of Ariel was counterproductive to peace negotiations.

Nevertheless, she said, the United States was continuing to work to resume the stalled negotiations.

“This announcement was counterproductive to our efforts to resume negotiations between the parties,” Clinton told reporters, but said: “We still believe that a positive outcome is both possible and necessary.”

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday, a day after the move was announced, that such plans were “never helpful”.

The U.S. State department said Washington was “deeply disappointed” by the plans, which were revealed during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Clinton in New York on Thursday.

Clinton also said Wednesday that the United States would give an additional $150 million to the Palestinian Authority as Washington seeks to boost the fledgling government amid an impasse in peace talks with Israel. ..

I understand people’s frustration with this issue and with what has been transpiring regarding settlements. My fear is that unless the parties come to some actual agreement on final status issues and unless there is a plan to implement the creation of a Palestinian state in a timely manner (ie. not take 10-20 years to do it) then I think the lesson even peaceful Palestinians may learn from this is that the only way they get the world’s attention is through violence. Also, failing at Mideast peace only emboldens Israel’s enemies, including Iran and Hamas. Sort of ironic, huh?

Some photos from the video conference this morning:

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. HillaryFan permalink
    November 10, 2010 1:11 pm

    I certainly wish her luck. It’s like she has to do this with both hands tied behind her back- she’s got no wiggle room because she’s got little to no support from Democrats in Congress in terms of applying any real pressure to Israel.

    I’d like to be more hopeful but I really think Israel isn’t invested in this so maybe we need to get the EU and other countries more actively involved. We’re supposed to be the referee and mediator but we also see ourselves as the sole protector of only Israel. I think we are just not able to serve as an objective mediator. I heard that Israel never wants anyone but the US involved for this reason, which tells us something right there.

  2. Steve permalink
    November 10, 2010 7:06 pm

    The Palestinians going to the UN is a non-starter- the US simply won’t allow it. Yes, there’s a certain injustice in that, perhaps. There is also a certain irony given the history of Israel’s founding as a sovereign state after the British Mandate of Palestine, the Partition Plan for Palestine and UNGA resolution 181. We kind of forget the violence that preceded Israel’s status as an independent sovereign state and it’s interesting that the Jewish terrorist groups who used bombings and other forms of violence were, and still are, considered freedom fighters and not terrorists. There is a tendency to disallow the Palestinians to do the very things which Israel has long done- whether it’s demanding access to historical farmland and property, acting in self defense (by self defense I do NOT mean terrorist acts of the type just described, but rather simply just very basic self defense to protect one’s property and person) or seeking international recognition of their national autonomy.

    Israel will cease settlements when the Israel lobby and Congress tell them to stop settlements. We saw how quickly even the right wing Israeli govt reacted to grass-roots diaspora anger over the proposed conversion bill in the Knesset not long ago- American Jewish groups and members of Congress killed that conversion bill before it even saw the light of day, which just shows you how much power these groups (and the Jewish community) have when it comes to changing Israel’s behavior almost INSTANTLY – that is, when they want to get Israel to change. But the fact is they don’t think Israel should have to stop settlements, don’t think Israel should have to ever concede anything for peace and don’t think that the Palestinians should get even one inch of East Jerusalem. Because if they/we did, we’d be well on our way to a lasting peace deal irrespective of whether Bibi is a far right winger or not.

    Of course, the Palestinian leaders are seen as having no legitimacy by many of the Palestinians, which weakens Abbas and Fayyad and makes any peace deal less likely because they don’t have the support of the so-called “Arab Street.” I certainly know that the Palestinians aren’t totally blameless in this by the way. They’ve screwed things up for years and Arafat was a total snake, but at this point, they really have very little bargaining power (or any other kind of power) and Israel really does hold most of the cards at this point. And then there’s Hamas, which is being ignored despite the fact that they are a huge factor that has to be dealt with.

    And that’s what makes Secy Clinton’s job so tough. I don’t envy her. But it sure seems like she doesn’t have a lot of domestic support. I do believe if ANYONE can work out a peace deal, it’s Hillary.

    • November 10, 2010 9:26 pm

      Yeah but we’re preaching to the choir. This issue is a political Third Rail and nobody wants to talk about it. It’s just the same three of us here saying the same thing over and over again. At the end of the day you are right , most Americans are very content with the status quo over there and see no reason to question it. Until that changes, Israel will continue to benefit from it’s intransigence.

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