As the curtain drops on 2017, it drops too on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as we have known it. At the age of 24, that process has finally died, with none other than President Donald Trump
Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013
pulling the plug. But let’s not give him too much credit or blame for that. The killing blow was struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
There was much to like in Obama’s presidency, especially given the mess he was handed in 2009 and the unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican Party during his tenure. But he also had abject failures that were due to his own shortcomings, and the sharp degeneration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under his watch is at the top of the list. Read more at LobeLog
I have discovered an article of mine from 2006 still online. It is a review I wrote for the journal Global Understanding of William Quandt’s book, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab–Israeli Conflict since 1967. Despite being eight years old, it is striking how much of this piece remains relevant. It will also serve as a preview of some more current work I am doing. I hadn’t seen the piece since its initial publication, so I’m happy to share it with you here. I hope you find it as valuable as I do.
Ian Lustick’s piece in the New York Times this past weekend certainly raised some hackles. The half-dozen experts I saw speak at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last week, however, largely agreed and bolstered his arguments about the abject failure of the Oslo Peace Process. For me, I believe all these scholars’ works back up the point I’ve been making for years: the Oslo two-state formula was ill-conceived and the intervening two decades have altered its contours only in the direction of making a resolution to the conflict even harder to achieve. I explore at LobeLog.
This article originally appeared at LobeLog. There is an indispensable wealth of material there on recent events in Israel/Palestine, Iran, Egypt and others. I urge you to check it out.
Some days, it must be really difficult to be the State Department’s spokesperson. It doesn’t seem like a bad job to have at all, but on certain questions it’s impossible to not look like an idiot. A lot of those questions are connected to de facto policies which differ from de jure ones.
Look up the hill from the West Bank town of Tuwani and you see the Israeli settlement, Maon
And there is no better example of that than US policy on Israeli settlements.
Back in the early years after the 1967 war, the United States made it clear that the settlements were illegal according to international law. As recently as 1978, the State Department legal adviser confirmed that all Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line are illegal, and through the Carter administration, this was explicit US policy. That policy has never been explicitly revoked, but beginning with the Reagan administration, de facto policy has been ambiguous. Reagan began the trend when he stated that while the settlements were ill-advised, provocative and that further settlement was not necessary for Israel’s security “I disagreed when, the previous Administration refereed to them as illegal, they’re not illegal. Not under the U.N. resolution that leaves the West Bank open to all people—Arab and Israeli alike, Christian alike.”
The problematic nature of Reagan’s statement — implying that “Arab” equals “Muslim” and “Israeli” equals “Jew”, and more importantly, citing the “U.N. Resolution”, which is not the basis for the illegality of the settlements (the Fourth Geneva Convention is) — notwithstanding, this was the beginning of the US’ refusal to label settlements illegal, terming them instead, at most, “illegitimate.” Continue reading
John Kerry’s charade in Israel and Palestine is growing exceedingly tiresome. As I explain in Lobelog today, Israelis are laughing at him, other US diplomats are sneering and Palestinians, as usual, are just frustrated.
Israel is acting like any small, but relatively powerful country would act when it feels afraid and has blanket and unqualified protection for any of its acts from the world’s only superpower. It is the United States that is acting abnormally and entrenching this vexing conflict. I elaborate at Souciant today.
In this week’s piece at Souciant, I start taking a look at what Barack Obama’s second term may look like in terms of Middle East policy now that Mitt Romney has bungled himself into a position where he will need an unprecedented comeback to defeat the incumbent. Yet, while I see serious trouble for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has actively worked for Obama’s defeat, I don’t see a lot of fundamental change in Washington’s attitude in the region for the next four years. At least, not at the instigation of the White House; change will come from the region itself, if it comes at all.