The US Must Do Less To Resolve the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Former American diplomat Aaron David Miller is a frequent and worthwhile contributor to US foreign policy discussions in both Washington 8641515729_3c054d927a_zand the news media. His long career in Middle East diplomacy and strong focus on Israel have enabled him to clarify for the general public the many difficulties that exist under the surface of these issues. Unfortunately, as shown by his recent piece in Foreign Policy magazine, he sometimes obscures them as well.

Miller correctly points out that the Israel-Palestine conflict is not the major source of regional instability and that Secretary of State John Kerry was foolish to imply that the lack of progress on this issue had in some way become a contributing factor to the rise of the group that calls itself the Islamic State. But he also elides the enormous amount of responsibility the United States has and continues to hold not only for the Israel-Palestine conflict itself, but also for the difficulty in making any progress on the issue, let alone resolving it. Read more at LobeLog

Democracy Means Equality

A fundamental plank of any peace plan has to be universal rights and full equality for all, and that is true whether the solution is one state, two states, twelve states or no states in Israel-Palestine. I elaborate at Souciant.

As Direct Talks Die, What is Washington Doing?

A short while ago, I was asked to write an article about why there was some hope for the peace process. I agreed to write it, after some consideration.

I was completely honest in the article, describing why I thought the best hope for success in the talks lies in the potential for a serious American effort to move the process forward and how this was actually possible politically.

What I left out, or really, only lightly alluded to was my near certainty that such effort was not likely to be forthcoming. For the most part, that seems to have been the case.

A photo op even seems too much to hope for from direct peace talks now

What we’re left with now is a growing sense of despair, as the Palestinians seemed poised, at this writing, to quit the current round of talks (the first in two years) in the wake of Israel’s refusal to extend the phantom “moratorium” on settlement construction.

There have also been some significant developments in Washington that bear some scrutiny in the wake of what seems to be a disastrous failure of a great deal of effort on the part of the Obama Administration to broker direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

I’ll start with one event that, while it certainly made the news, has not gotten anything like the attention it deserves, especially from Israel. That is Obama’s success in convincing Russia to cancel a billion-dollar weapons deal with Iran.

This deal was in the works from 2006, and was agreed upon in 2007. The Bush Administration had spent considerable effort to thwart the sale, with no success, and the fact that Obama succeeded is a major foreign policy victory for him. More than anything, it should have been a major bone to toss to Israel, whose current government has repeatedly indicated that they would be more disposed toward negotiations with the Palestinians if more was done regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Russian arms were air defense systems, and their presence could have made a theoretical Israeli attack on Iran more difficult. Continue reading