The Rubin Report
11 May '10
The White House released what it calls a "Readout of the President’s Call with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority" which summarizes President Barack Obama's telephone conversation with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas. Let's analyze it.
"The President congratulated President Abbas on the start of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks."
The U.S. government wants to encourage continued talks and to ensure that nothing should interfere with them continuing. These talks are the administration's main (sole?) "achievement" in foreign policy and woe to he--unless "he" is on the Palestinian side--who jeopardized their continuation.
"He reiterated his strong support for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel."
Today, in honor of Yom Yerushalayim, a very special video - Jerusalem Day: Reflections by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel
This is the basic stance of U.S. presidents going back at least to the Oslo agreements of 17 years ago: the Palestinians get a state, Israel gets security, both get peace. In many ways, the Obama Administration has not changed the framework of U.S. policy as it was under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It is the atmospherics that are done quite differently, and often counterproductively.
"The President and President Abbas discussed the need for both parties to negotiate seriously and in good faith, and to move from proximity talks to direct negotiations as soon as possible in order to reach an agreement on permanent status issues."
So the U.S. goal is to get the talks going directly--which is possible--and to obtain a full peace agreement--which isn't. The key question is how much will the Obama administration push in that direction. Will it be satisfied to let the indirect talks go on for many months? I tend to think that the White House isn't going to go all-out for a final-status agreement it knows isn't going to happen. But the effort to make these two transitions--indirect to direct, general talks to negotiations--is going to be the centerpiece of U.S. policy on this issue during the rest of this term.
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