(Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New America Foundation/Middle East Task Force Director and Middle East Channel Editor Daniel Levy provides an excellent “breaking analysis” of David Igantius’ and Helene Cooper’s reports yesterday that the Obama administration is considering proposing a comprehensive peace plan for Israel and Palestine.
Levy’s analysis is too nuanced to allow me to do it justice by excerpting it, but I will highlight one counter-intuitive point that Levy has been making for awhile: that the settlement fracas has actually pushed Benjamin Netanyahu into an uncomfortable position.
It is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has, inadvertently, confronted the administration with Kurtzer’s truisms and helped create a learning curve of what one might call “policy review by painful experience.” Netanyahu helped provide a moment of clarity, demonstrating that confidence cannot be built incrementally, that settlements will not be frozen, and that East Jerusalem cannot be ignored. If one is to ascribe strategic foresight to the Obama administration (and that may be merited), then what they have done is to walk the Israeli prime minister down a corridor in which, in part due to his own actions, the exit routes are being sealed and a moment of real choice is approaching.
As I argued here back in September, the Obama settlement-freeze strategy took Netanyahu out of his comfort zone (of interim measures and economic peace). In rejecting the freeze, Netanyahu found himself not only facing but embracing the thing he most abhors — endgame peace negotiations. The latest round has taken this a step further, now making a discussion of Jerusalem inescapable. The more Netanyahu demands recognition of Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the more obvious and unavoidable the flip side becomes — namely, that Palestinian East Jerusalem and Palestinian neighborhoods will need to be recognized as part of the Palestinian capital and state. He continues to be walked down that corridor.
Levy’s article can be read here.
— Ben Katcher