Kicking the Peace Can Down The Road
05/06/2014 - 19:00
Douglas Bloomfield

If the next President is a student of history and not a masochist, he or she is highly unlikely to dabble in Middle East peacemaking unless both sides come to the White House with a convincing case that they are ready to get serious. And even then caution would be well advised.

President 45 will have the benefit of knowing that all attempts by previous presidents have left an unpleasant residue and often proved a political liability. 

President Barack Obama learned that from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama stumbled right out of the starting blocks and never got his stride. He didn't get any help from the two leaders, who only reluctantly went to the negotiating table for a brief and futile round of talks.  Obama left a second term attempt to his secretary of state, John Kerry. Same players, same results.

Obama may not be ready or willing to admit it, but he is ready to leave trying to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians to his successor. 

Unless the Israelis and Palestinians plead for help, the next president is likely to find far better ways to spend his or her time.  What the new leader in the White House will need is new leaders in the Middle East with the courage to take the risks and make the tough decisions essential to peace.

A Republican president will find it easier to resist the temptation to become a peacemaker than the Democrats because of the GOP's basic pro-Likud positions and because most of the party's fundraising and small voter base is on the far right, where voices like billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the party's largest Jewish contributor, is rabidly anti-Palestinian statehood and pro-Netanyahu.

Republicans tend to focus their outreach to Jewish supporters by stressing their hardline positions on Israel because so much of their political agenda tends to be very conservative and does not resonate with Jewish voters.

Democrats, who usually win 75-80 percent of Jewish votes, have a broader appeal on domestic issues to Jewish voters, and those voters are much more supportive of the two-state approach to Mideast peace

Secretary of State Kerry said it is time to take a time out to think about where to go next. 

The first postmortem on the Kerry initiative was written by Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea in the Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot.  It is based on an interview with an unnamed senior American official, who is widely believed to be Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel who headed Kerry's negotiating team.  Indyk, a former colleague of mine at AIPAC who went on to head the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is reportedly resigning his post to return to the Brookings Institution. 

Barnea's source contends "the main damage to the peace talks came from the settlements" and "sabotage" by several leading figures in the Netanyahu government.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas showed little flexibility, he wrote. Ultimately, the talks failed because neither side was really committed to their success.

With his emphasis on where Israel went wrong, he overlooked the problems created by Palestinian incitement, unwavering maximalist demands, a refusal to extend the talks, bypassing the negotiating table by going to the U.N. and joining various agencies and agreements, threatening to file war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court and the new alliance with Hamas, an anti-Semitic terror group that opposes peace and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state 

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Israelis and Jews are often asked about the two-state solution, but the question is incomplete. The questions should be “Do you support a two-state solution, where there is no peace, but there are terrorist attacks” or alternatively “Do you support a two-state solution, where there is peace, but no access to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount or Hebron?”
I think if people were asked those questions, rather than the simplistic “Do you support a two-state solution”, people would understand why many or most Israelis reject the two-state solution”. The question is the same as “Do you support land or peace” as if giving up land meant peace or a Palestinian state meant peace”.
The next question might be “Do you think Abbas can deliver peace, when he demands the release of terrorists, then praises them and makes a pact with Hamas?”
Would or should the US have ended WW II sooner, in exchange for a handshake and a piece of paper from Hitler? Had the offer been made would we say both the US and Hitler were equally to blame for the continuation of the war?
Giving up land has not brought peace with the Palestinians. Neither Netanyahu nor the so-called right wing should be blamed. The Palestinians must live in peace and accept Israel as a Jewish state to prove they are sincere about peace before Israel should give up land or make any concessions.

The two state solution doesn't fail because of intransigence, the wrong leaders, the unwillingness to take risks, or any of that. It fails because it is a metaphysical impossibility. Examine the absolute minimum standards below which neither side will accept:

Israel: the survival of Israel
Palestinians: the destruction of Israel

No negotiations will ever narrow this gap.

Yediot and Mr. Nahum Barnea are about as far-left as one could get on the political spectrum ,making them usually biased and unreliable sources.Mr Indyk dates back to the Clinton era and the failed but famous team of Ross, Kurtzer,Miller and Indyk who
tried their best.Of the four Indyk was way out in left field.Obama tried to resurrect a
failed diplomacy.
Let's be accurate.Every inch of Israel belongs to the Jewish people and state of Israel now and forever.There is no such thing as occupied lands- they are LIBERATED.If the Israeli governments past and present weren't scared -off by outside interests they should have officially annexed everything liberated after 1967. The arabs would have preferred to live under a sovereign Israeli government than their corrupt and totally inept so-called leadership.
This game of peace has ended.Neither side wants it.The best solution is QUIET.
NO war , NO Peace.
There is only a one state solution.If the arabs want to live here peacefully and with most rights fine-if not-that's their choice.
Te EU(all of a sudden they think they have become a world-player) the U.S. UN, quartet ,should pack-up , go home and work on their own problems.