Obama’s Choice For Palestine


Obama’s Choice by Henry Siegman, President of the U.S./Middle East Project. This article is based on a study he prepared for the Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre (Noref) in Oslo.

Virtually overnight, the Arab Middle East has been irrevocably transformed. The implications for America’s vital interests in the region and for Israel-Palestine peacemaking will be far-reaching. Most observers seem to agree that Israeli fears of the growing political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and of a resurgence of Hamas in the West Bank end what little prospect for an Israeli-Palestinian accord might have survived the latest deadlock in the US-brokered peace talks. But in reality there was never the slightest possibility of the parties reaching agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu and his government were convinced they had bested Obama in their confrontation over continued settlement construction, and could now continue gobbling up the West Bank with impunity, disregarding not only American interests but international law and all previous agreements committing Israel to halting the construction of settlements and dismantling all its illegal outposts. (Despite repeated promises, not only were the illegal outposts not removed, many were converted into full-blown settlements.) The long-planned goal of Israel’s colonial enterprise – establishing irreversible control over Palestine through its settlements – was clearly in sight, if not already an accomplished fact.

Israel’s indifference to popular outrage throughout the region over its 44-year occupation was sustained by its belief that authoritarian Arab regimes, whose survival depended to a considerable extent on the US security umbrella, would keep their subjects’ rage in check. The regimes’ deference to the US was responsible for the stability of Egypt’s and Jordan’s peace accords with Israel and for the historic Arab Peace Initiative, agreed in 2002, which committed all Arab countries to full normalization of relations with Israel, provided a peace accord with the Palestinians was reached.

But America’s credibility and influence had begun to be eroded even before the popular eruptions in the region, in part because of Obama’s capitulation to Netanyahu. Whatever willingness there may have been among Arab regimes to join Israel and the US in an anti-Iran coalition, it will be weakened by the fall of Mubarak. Iran’s influence in the region will be strengthened. The enmity of most Arab regimes towards Iran is not shared by their citizens, primarily because they saw Iran as having assumed leadership in the struggle against Israel’s occupation of Palestine that their own leaders abandoned.

Complete article via U.S./Middle East Peace Project

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: