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