Obama’s I-P Dilemma


IsraelCROP.jpgDaniel Levy has published in National Interest a thoughtful and provocative critique of the recent collapsed American effort to seduce the Israelis and Palestinians into temporary negotiations. Like me, Daniel thinks that the administration’s failure is more opportunity than loss — but then weaves together an interesting narrative that the Palestinians are actually moving into a position with greater leverage.
Read the whole piece, but here is a segment:

To have a realistic chance of success, any U.S, leader would simply have to throw that playbook onto the scrap heap. The United States would have to be willing to present its own formula for a breakthrough, front-loading the territorial and border issue (it’s the occupation, stupid), offer inducements and incentives for progress but make them conditional and not rollover in the face of rejection by either side.
America would also need to take a pragmatically inclusive approach to regional and Palestinian realities (Syria and Hamas will need to be part of the equation, even if the latter is via indirect mediation). This not only can, but must be wrapped up together with a package of new security guarantees for Israel and as part of a narrative that articulates why it is not just an Israeli interest but an Israeli necessity. America cannot impose a solution on Israel, but it can dramatically reconfigure the Israeli public and political conversation about the conflict and be the key to unlocking an Israeli political ‘yes.’

— Steve Clemons


13 comments on “Obama’s I-P Dilemma

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:



  2. samuelburke says:

    Jerome Slater has this over at mondoweiss
    Given the Obama administration


  3. Steve Clemons says:

    Mark — you are happy to post here if you are constructive. Your tone as I see in the comments above is not. I have never called you or anyone an anti-semite or self-hating Jew, so get off that track immediately. I pick selectively what I want to comment on or let pass. I don’t let my commenters determine how I spend my time or attentions as I’m just too busy. If you want to be part of the community here, then don’t try and hijack the discussion with flamboyant appeals for attention. You seem passionate – and I don’t want to inhibit constructive discussion, but don’t engage me again in such baiting behavior.
    Steve Clemons


  4. nadine says:

    Don Bacon, you are just hallucinating. There is no ongoing Israeli “takeover” of Palestine. (You really think so? Okay, what was the most recent part taken over? I want names and dates.)
    Heck, if there were, the Palestinians might be motivated to negotiate in order to stop it. But no, they feel mighty comfortable, no rush, time’s on their side (they think) and with any luck Obama will do their negotiating for them and they won’t have to agree to a thing. Though he’s disappointed them lately, lol.


  5. Don Bacon says:

    This continuing charade of diplomacy which serves to cover the ongoing Israel takeover of Palestine requires occasional “thoughtful and provocative critique(s)” such as this, to maintain the facade of respectability for the cruel subjugation of the Palestinian people under US control. No other hands are allowed on the I/P steering wheel, ‘cuz then the lobby would lose control of the process.
    Does the whole thing make sense? Is it fair? No. But apparently the US has a strangle-hold on the process, to the delight of Israel, and it won’t let go.
    Meanwhile Levy’s suggestion is that the US “dramatically reconfigure the Israeli public and political conversation.” You gotta admit Levy has a sense of humor.


  6. nadine says:

    John Waring, which side refused to talk for the last two years?


  7. John Waring says:

    Daniel Gavron’s article needs to be read together
    with Daniel Levy’s piece.


  8. John Waring says:

    The twenty year old peace process approach is
    dead. Israeli intransigence and American
    fecklessness killed it.
    I see two potentially viable approaches. 1) The
    US gets out of the way and lets the Security
    Council impose a two-state peace. 2. The PA
    dissolves itself, demands equal rights under
    greater Israel, organizes all of Palestinian
    society in massive civil, yet nonviolent,
    disobedience, and continue a campaign of massive
    resistance until their human rights are codified
    in law.
    Israel and the United States have had plenty of
    chances over the past two decades and have
    squandered all of them. The Palestinians now have
    to seize Clio’s garment as she brushes past.


  9. nadine says:

    “The United States would have to be willing to present its own formula for a breakthrough, front-loading the territorial and border issue (it’s the occupation, stupid), offer inducements and incentives for progress but make them conditional and not rollover in the face of rejection by either side. ” (Daniel Levy)
    So in essence, Daniel Levy tells Obama to ignore the last two years of abject failure, learn nothing from it, but just try harder. Put borders up front, the issue where the two sides are the closest. Ignore Jerusalem and refugees, where the two sides are miles apart. Just insist a deal happen. After all, you’re the President, you can just make it happen if you really insist, right? What could go wrong?
    That’s an excellent recipe for a new Mideast War. Also Daniel Levy, who must have seen the Wikileaks memos, seems determined to ignore their contents.
    Robert Satloff has a slightly more realistic assessment of the White House failure to date, followed by suggestions to stop trying to impose top-down solutions:
    “By any measure of success, Washington’s peace diplomacy deserves a reset. After identifying Middle East peace as a high priority and appointing a top-level envoy on the second day of his administration, President Obama cannot be proud of the fact that there has been less progress in Arab-Israeli diplomacy on his watch than during any presidency since Lyndon Johnson.
    Although several factors contributed to this poor record, a central reason — now broadly recognized by key decisionmakers in the administration — was the misplaced decision to junk the tacit understanding on Israeli settlement construction limitations reached under the George W. Bush administration, and instead insist on a total freeze of Israeli settlement activity as a condition of U.S. engagement in diplomacy. This new position elevated a tactical issue to center stage, fed a damaging and flawed narrative about the impossibility of diplomatic progress without a freeze, denied both the Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders room for political maneuver, and distracted attention from promising opportunities to address core issues on the negotiation agenda. Without Israeli-Palestinian agreement regarding what would happen on day ninety-one, an additional ninety-day settlement freeze would only have exacerbated these problems, not resolved them. ”


  10. questions says:

    I just saw the news on kos.
    My condolences.


  11. WigWag says:

    Sadly, the New York Times is announcing that Richard Holbrooke passed away this afternoon at the age of 69. May God comfort Kati Marton and the rest of his family and friends.
    Rest in peace Ambassador Holbrooke.


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This is off topic, but….
    Another “sell-out” of Barack Obama’s is his treatment of the BP disaster, that is still unfolding under the media radar. Massive fish kills still occuring, huge stretches of gulf ocean bottom coated with oil, shrimp catches unedible, gulf residents falling gravely ill, ridiculously unscientific conclusions about the “safety” of gulf seafood, the military being solicited to buy mass quantities of gulf seafood, the list goes on and on.
    Amazing how this story disappeared off the media radar, after this lying sack of shit Obama had his minions tells us the oil had “disappeared”.
    Heres Naomi’s recent piece. Well worth the read.


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Absolutely astounding.
    Yet one more piece on I/P that IGNORES the mountain of mewling subservient DC pukes tripping over themselves to curry favor with AIPAC and Israel, making it virtually impossible for ANY President to make headway, or change the dynamic, on this issue.
    Freidman’s recent piece is far more to the point, and a far more realistic appraisal of the “possibilities”.
    Levy’s piece is just more of the same tired ‘ol think tank crap, citing possible directions to take on this issue, while ignoring the IMPOSSIBILITY of such actions as long as Israel’s occupation of Congress continues unabated. Do any of these think tank wiz kids really fail to see the inanity of these kinds of feckless mind mutterings occurring immediately after our “Representatives” in DC just agreed to piss away a few more billion on an even larger annual gift package to Israel?? Where is the WILL in Washington DC to support a President that seeks to change the dynamics of the I/P clusterfuck?
    Gads, one could almost believe these think tank mutterings are coming from another planet.
    “…pragmatically inclusive approach to regional and Palestinian…” … blahblahblah….
    How about we just tell these intransigent arrogant bastards to quit stealing Palestinian land, or we are going to cut off their gravy train? And if they shoot another American citizen in the head, we are gonna bomb the bejesus out of ’em.
    Yeah, ain’t gonna happen, I know. But is Levy honest enough to know HIS inane suggestions are just as unlikely?


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