Ehud Barak will be in Washington tomorrow to meet with just about everyone with a title. Gee, when was the last time Salam Fayyad or Abu Mazen got an audience with all these Cabinet Secretaries? Not recently. Of course, they are in the in the dog house for daring to do something the U.S. doesn’t approve of. Don’t those uppity Arabs know their place?
If the U.S. and Israel spent as much time on peace as they did preventing the Palestinians from a successful statehood bid at the U.N., we’d all be a lot better off.
From Laura Rozen:
On his one-day trip to Washington, Barak will hold meetings with Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department; and new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon, the embassy said. On Friday, Barak will meet in New York with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The Obama White House has similarly told allied nation diplomats in recent days there is not yet meaningful progress to report in those efforts. And a less than promising precedent was set two weeks ago with a tense meeting of the Middle East Quartet–the U.S., Russia, UN and European Union–in Washington.
The “Americans told us they could bring the parties together,” one diplomatic official told the Envoy on condition of anonymity to express frustration with Washington’s handling of the issue. But the “traditional view of the Americans is to pre-negotiate with the Israelis and then tell [the Quartet members] you should … endorse [what the U.S. and Israel agreed]. That’s a problem dealing with sovereign countries.”
“The whole point is to find a way into negotiations that doesn’t create the expectation of quick progress and doesn’t force each side to posture,” former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told the Envoy last week. “This notion of preparing to talk about talks may seem absurd; but it’s not; given where we are; and where we are is about shuffling and dancing not conflict-ending agreement.”
Separately, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren was spotted having lunch today at the Oval Room with National Security Council human rights adviser Samantha Power, restaurant-goers told the Envoy.
That bit I highlighted about how the U.S. gets approval from Israel and then gives the Quartet it’s marching orders is something I’ve noted here over and over again. It turns the Quartet into nothing but a U.S. rubber stamp of Israeli intransigence. Everything the U.S. does runs counter to good negotiating/mediation practice. It’s a disgrace actually. I am incredibly disappointed that Secretary Clinton has chosen to approach Mideast diplomacy in such a fashion. Because of her popularity, stature and her long history of pro-Israel views and policies she could perhaps be just the person to get Israel to budge. But no. No leadership coming from this administration on this issue. It’s a shame, really, because the U.S. has utterly failed at a time when it can’t afford to. With each passing day the U.S. loses credibility and our ability to shape events in the Middle East has been curtailed by the Arab Spring- at least that’s how it looks with respect to Egypt.
Dennis Ross, the current and past lead U.S. negotiator, spoken about his method for negotiating between the parties– it consists of going to the Israelis to see what they want and then going to the Palestinians and getting them to move towards the Israeli position. Honest broker. That Obama selected him for this role gives us some insight into his intentions and expectations with respect to Mideast peace.
Perhaps the only hope for the peace process is for the European Union countries (and Russia) to get so fed up with the U.S. self-sabotage of the peace process that they start making unilateral diplomatic moves- like NOT vetoing the Palestinian bid for statehood and continuing to present their own offers of hosting negotiations. For their part, I don’t know why the Arab League doesn’t step up and put real pressure on the United States and in particular, Saudi Arabia. We are beholden to their oil and so they could use that as leverage.