Israeli Defense Minister to Meet With Secretary of State. Again.


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.

[snip]

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.

[emphasis added]

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.

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Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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10 Comments on “Israeli Defense Minister to Meet With Secretary of State. Again.”

  1. thainjacobs Says:

    The State Dept is a huge disappointment but I’m beginning to see that my hope that Hillary would be even-handed was naive given her history. I’m not bashing her or anything- she is what she is but I really doubt at this point she’s going to suddenly wake up one morning and treat the Palestinians fairly. I don’t think she sees them as being as human and worthy of concern as Jewish Israelis. She talks about how she visited Israeli hospitals and met with children and families who were injured during terror attacks. That’s all well and good but did she go to Palestinian hospitals and meet with kids who were injured by White Phosphorous or those new, horrible munitions we sold Israel that have minimum impact on buildings but massive impact on people? No, she didn’t.

    This is OT but I know you’ve been following the increase in Iran warmongering lately. It’s no secret if the US strikes Iran it will be on behalf of Israel. This Think Progress article sort of demonstrates how the Lobby is able to use their influence to drive the debate on Iran in a less than transparent manner:

    http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/07/19/271431/fdd-donors/

    I hate to say this because it’s no politically correct but when you look at who is funding that right wing think tank, it’s just so stereotypical. All of them are neocons involved in Israel First advocacy.

    Everybody has a right to their opinion and obviously to express it but is it really appropriate for these groups and individuals to be a driving force in our foreign policy given they are only concerned with a foreign country, Israel?

    Reply

    • Pilgrim Says:

      Your point is well made about H. Clinton visiting Israeli injured in hospital, but apparently not the severely injured Palestinians.

      Stacy hopes, and I do too, that if leadership will not come from U.S., then maybe Russia and Europe etc. will get so fed up with the blatant unfairness, that they will cease doing the U.S. bidding.

      Reply

  2. Stacy Says:

    I wish Europe and other non-Arab states would step up to the plate- unlike Russia and the Arab states, we really wouldn’t able to punish the UK, Germany, France etc. We could punish Russia but it’s really not in our interest to. The EU should say to the US “you tried to get the parties together to prevent this from going to the UN, it didn’t work, so maybe voting yes to the statehood resolution will make Israel realize we mean business.”

    But they won’t do that I don’t think. Their countries have powerful Israel lobbies too.

    It should be clear that Israel has no interest in two states. It simply wants to run the Palestinians off the land, make their lives as miserable as possible in the hopes they’ll go to Jordan, Egypt etc. That’s their version of a peace plan. Meanwhile they continue to imprison and harass nonviolent palestinian protesters while the Secretary of State says nothing.

    50 Israeli special forces raided a Palestinian theater in the West Bank in the middle of the night- they arrested two people and they refuse to say why. The theater was used to provide Palestinian youth a healthy outlet for their frustration and to keep them out of trouble- you know, instead of violence. It had been founded by a man who was both Jewish and Arab- he was killed not long ago for his work and no one knows who is responsible.

    This isn’t the first time Israel has targeted the theater. But think about it- 50 special forces to arrest two people in the middle of the night- I’m going to put a post up about it later. But not a peep from the U.S. It’s just harassment. The other thing is that this theater is in the WEST BANK, which is SUPPOSED to be controlled by the Palestinians and yet IDF special forces just go in and attack? Oh, and they did a tremendous amount of damage to the theater of course. Conveniently the U.S. media has not reported on this as far as I can tell. Can you imagine if 50 heavily-armed Palestinians surrounded a Jewish Israeli theater in the middle of the night and took away two people without giving a reason? It has become clear that the media censors almost all information that portrays Israel in a bad light. If Americans read about this kind of think they would likely have more sympathy for the Palestinians. It’s time to ask the hard questions- WHY does the media cover for Israel? I don’t care if the answers are unpleasant, the questions to be asked.

    And yet despite all this, the Israel First crowd complains about unfair media and political bias against Israel. What in the world are they talking about? Why must Israel always be the victim despite having almost complete political, social, military control over every aspect of the Palestinians lives?

    Ok, I’ll stop rambling now…

    Reply

  3. thainjacobs Says:

    You know I hate to say it but for someone who gets credit for a feminist foreign policy Hillary certainly is paternalistic when it comes to the Palestinians. In her view they can have rights only on the U.S. and Israel’s terms. They have no right to defend themselves and they have no rights to free speech, association etc. They have no right to peaceful protest. They have no right to try to get Israel to stop violating international law. They have no right to go to the U.N., although the US and Israel don’t think twice about doing so. The only right the Palestinians have is to shut the fuck up and do what the U.S. and Israel tell them to do.

    Now that they are not simply shutting the fuck up, the US has made clear the money will stop flowing if they go to the UN and according to media reports today, the PA is on the verge of collapse. Palestinian security forces aren’t getting paid, electricity in the cities is being cut off, food prices are rising and Israel illegally withholds PA tax revenue because of the unity agreement with Hamas.

    Yeah, that’s all soooooooo feminist! I guess all those Palestinian women and children were just unlucky to be born Palestinian instead of Jewish. To bad they weren’t born Jewish, then Hillary would be able to empathize with them and treat them like human beings instead of mocking them for being “dramatic” as she did per the Palestine Papers. Who is more dramatic than the Israelis? Jesus Christ.

    Same goes for Obama but I don’t consider him a feminist at all so he’s behaving pretty much as expected lofty Cairo speech notwithstanding. That doesn’t mean he’s not responsible he is b/c he’s the POTUS. But Secy Clinton has a lot of power in terms of crafting diplomatic and foreign policy- we hear that all the time- she’s been on the winning side of a lot of arguments particularly with anything involving the military. We also hear when she REALLY cares about something she really pushes hard for it and usually gets her way.

    Reply

  4. Steve Says:

    The Palestinians don’t stand a chance:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/senior-israeli-diplomat-un-often-sympathetic-to-israel-but-only-behind-the-scenes-1.375627

    I am so tired of Israel’s official fetishization of victimhood

    BTW, a new J Street poll finds a majority of American Jews have a higher opinion of Netanyahu than Obama. That’s just great. We can’t complain about the dual loyalty card being used against us when we, uh, are actually more loyal to a foreign leader.

    One more thing, just to let you know how mainstream liberalism doesn’t include Palestinian rights, Daily Kos has banned any criticism of Zionism and a bunch of Jewish members of the site have demanded that linking to the site Mondoweiss be forbidden because they say it’s anti-Semitic, which is total BS of course. Mondoweiss, which is run by two Jewish guys, is one of the best sites on the web as far as I’m concerned, they write about stuff everyone else is afraid to write about and they make the Jewish community uncomfortable by holding a mirror up to it/us.

    These tactics on the web, twitter, youtube, facebook are a new form of so-called pro-Israel advocacy. Israel and the Israel lobby, including campus student groups like Hillel and Jewish organizations, have stepped up their campaigns to try to silence debate by claiming it’s all antisemitism. Unfortunately, this is happening more and more on liberal blogs, giving credence to the term PEP: Progressive Except Palestine. Firedoglake also is hostile to any criticism of Israel. I personally think it’s because so many progressives are Jewish except on Palestine so they are trying to prevent other progressives from joining the pro-Palestinian movement. As a Jewish progressive myself, I find this infuriating.

    I don’t hang out at Daily Kos, never have, but I just found it interesting because it shows just how desperate the Israel First crowd is getting. It also shows how liberalism isn’t all that liberal where Israel is concerned.

    Reply

  5. thainjacobs Says:

    Gee what a surprise! Barak is running around DC with his hand out wanting more money despite the fact that the US economy is in the tanker and despite the fact that Israel’s economy is doing brilliantly. WTF? Why do we have to subsidize them. The House wants to cut all foreign aid except to who? Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has “government run” healthcare, low unemployment and subsidizes people who live in the illegal settlements?

    http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=231488

    Will the US media report that Israeli officials are here asking for MORE money in the middle of a pending economic disaster. I doubt it. They don’t want people to know how we write a blank check to Israel while forcing the middle class here to suffer.

    Why do we have to give Israel so much money. Oh, that’s right, the Lobby.

    Reply

  6. thainjacobs Says:

    When are people going to wake up and demand that the US not allow it’s foreign policy to be owned by a foreign country? Why should the U.S. taxpayers fund an illegal occupation and settlements while the Israeli leadership does nothing but mock and disrespect the POTUS? I don’t like Obama but it takes really big balls to demand more money, more military hardware, more diplomatic support and then once you get that, turn around and treat the POTUS like a shoe shine boy, which is exactly what Bibi did last time he was here. then those of us who point this stuff out are called anti-semites? Please.

    Israel is a fully industrialized country which gets more aid that the entire continent of Africa.

    Israel’s leaders and their unquestioning supporters are so friggin’ entitled

    Reply

    • Stacy Says:

      At a time when our govt is telling us we have to all feel some economic pain and as it becomes more clear that the Middle Class will be hit particularly hard, it’s ridiculous to not at least make a token cut in aid to Israel. I am not implying we should completely cut off ALL funds, but we should cut some. We should also cut SOME funding to Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not all, but some. It’s infuriating that our leaders are thinking of getting rid of one one of the few middle class tax incentives for home ownership- deducting the interest on the mortgage, in the name of fiscal responsibility. Schools are closing, roads go unpaved, federal highways are a mess, infrastructure if crumbling- our rail system is a thing of the past.

      And yet Israel, a fully industrialized nation that weathered the financial crisis very, very well, which has low unemployment, which is able to offer its citizens national health care (as thain said above) and is able to economically subsidize the illegal settlements, gets a record INCREASE in economic “aid.”

      Keep in mind that 3 billion number you hear is nowhere near the amount they actually get when we include loan guarantees, the fact that they get it as a lump sump and can invest it, the cushy trade deals we give to Israel and no one else and the fact that we let Israel use our money to contract out to Israeli defense contractors/businesses rather than US ones- thus boosting THEIR economy at the expense of ours- something we let no other country do- we always demand countries purchase US military equipment, services etc. with OUR money.

      It’s a disgrace. And as you said Thain, there is no debate about any of this nor is there any reporting about it because the govt and the media know that if the American people knew that while our govt demands more and more economic sacrifice from its citizens, the US pumps more and more money into a foreign country that has a better economy then we do, they’d be outraged. Our congress would be exposed for being totally hypocritical when it comes to cutting spending. This isn’t even about agreeing with or not agreeing with Israel. This is about fundamental fairness.

      Reply

  7. stop fascism Says:

    Really great post, I’ll definitelly come back on your website.

    Reply

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