Friday, October 23, 2009

Is It Blank?

Jennifer Rubin
23 October 09

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the president a report documenting the progress made in the Middle East “peace process.” This report uses many words to explain that there hasn’t been any:

“The Secretary advised the President that challenges remain as the United States continues to work with both sides to relaunch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed,” a White House official said on background in a statement. “They also discussed the progress that has been made on a number of issues and the path ahead.”

No “Cairo Effect”? Hmm. The president was impatient, we were told, but we’re still “working to relaunch negotiations.” Well, they could make progress. (”‘Would we like to have reached the point to launch negotiations? Of course,’ an official said. ‘Are we satisfied? No. Do we still think it’s possible in a relatively short period of time to get that admittedly preliminary step accomplished? Yes we do, that’s what we’re engaged in.’”) Engaged in working to relaunch negotiations, that is.

Even a “peace process” cheerleader like Aaron David Miller seems to acknowledge that Obama hasn’t helped matters: “Those Israelis who don’t want to move ahead, have a ready made excuse. Between Goldstone, Obama, Abbas’ weakness, and Hamas, dealing with the peace process isn’t a terribly attractive proposition from this Israeli government’s perspective.” But the ultimate “excuse” not to move ahead has been handed by Obama to the Palestinians on a silver platter — the absence of a total settlement freeze (which wasn’t in the cards to begin with).

So what to do? Why, more of the same! George Mitchell (who must get paid by the mile) is jetting back to the Middle East for more meetings. That’s what he and the peace processer do — they meet. Those meetings seem increasingly divorced from the reality on the ground — for example, an emboldened Hamas, a Palestinian Authority without authority to negotiate, a rejectionist Arab world, and a nervous Israel. Maybe it’s time to try something new. The Obama Middle East peace offensive has been a bust, no matter how creatively written or spun Clinton’s report may be.

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