Political apologists for President Obama didn’t waste much time in claiming that his Thursday speech didn’t really say anything new about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Too bad that none of the principal actors in the region are behaving that way.
We all know about the…tepid…joint appearance by Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama Friday. It came after a scheduled 30 minute meeting went for over two hours, leaving lunch and aides steaming outside the room.
Then, today, the Palestinians:
Following Obama’s Middle East speech on Thursday, in which he said that a future Palestinian State should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps, PA President Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting of the PA leadership to discuss the new developments. Erekat said that the meeting could take place on Tuesday or Wednesday after Abbas, who is currently in Jordan meeting with King Abdullah, completes consultations with Arab leaders and the Arab League.
PLO Executive Committee member Hana Amira was quoted by Israel Radio on Sunday as saying that the Palestinians would cancel plans to go to the UN with a unilateral declaration of statehood in September if Israel would agree to negotiations based on the 1967 lines and freeze all building in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem for a period of three months.
Right. The Palestinians decided to call an emergency meeting over “nothing new.” Evidently, the simultaneous translation into Democrat missed a few things.
Note also the timing and the demand. The three month building halt in Jerusalem – remember, that’s something the Palestinians had never called for before Obama did – is timed to end in September, when the UN vote could happen, anyway. The Palestinians can seize the opportunity to look amenable, continue to both obstruct and purse the UN option, and still call for a vote in September. If you argue that, well, that’s nothing new, you’re right. Except that that diplomatic angle relies on the rest of the world believing differently.
The Palestinians may be about to find out what Israelis and Jews should have discovered in 2008 – there’s an expiration date on everything Barack Obama says, everything – and on the Middle East, it can be as little as 24 hours. In the meantime, Netanyahu is already saying that the tiff was exaggerated, and Obama is already hedging and filling, at least a little, in his interview with the BBC, and I strongly suspect there will be more of the same in about 15 minutes (unless the President is late to his own speech again) to AIPAC.
Either the President really thought he was being pro-Israel, and had to have it explained to him why he wasn’t, or else he knew exactly what he was saying, and was surprised by the political blowback, especially among Jewish Democrat donors and fundraisers, who can probably still bring in more early money than Ramallah phone banks. In either case, it’s a continuation of the amateur hour that characterizes this administration’s foreign policy, 3AM or not.