I have long thought that Dr Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the
Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee and the
Palestine Legislative Council, is the most articulate spokesperson
in the Israeli occupied territory for her cause. Her latest comment
is a bleak assessment of the prospects for getting a real peace
process going. She was responding to a statement by an Obama
administration official that both Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be able to
“express reservations about individual provisions” in the framework
document Secretary of State John Kerry is preparing. Here’s what
My answer to her lead question is that the purpose of the framework
document when it comes will be a combination of all three: to
maintain a semblance of progress, to buy more time and to give the
impression that Kerry’s mission has not ended in predictable and
widely predicted failure.
On 26 February the headline over a story in the New
York Times by Mark
Landler was “Shrugging
off past setbacks, Obama plans personal role in Middle East peace
bid”. Its main point was that when he receives Netanyahu in the
White House on Monday 3 March (Netanyahu will be in Washington to
deliver more fire and brimstone to AIPAC’s – the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee – annual conference), Obama will “press”
him to accept the framework document as a road map (yes, another
one!) for final status negotiations to be concluded by the end of
… when the game ends, Obama, rather than using the leverage he
has to require Israel to be serious about peace on terms the
Palestinians could accept, will walk away from the conflict and
tell his fellow Americans and the world that he can’t want peace
more than the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves.
On the basis of what has been reported to date about the likely
content of Kerry’s framework document, I can’t see why Netanyahu
needs to be pressed into accepting it. The content appears to give
him what he most wants – the scope to blame Abbas and the
Palestinians for the failure of negotiations while Israel continues
its colonization of the occupied West Bank and, with Egypt’s
assistance, its siege of the Gaza Strip prison camp.
So why, really, is Obama about to become personally engaged again?
The answer, it seems to me, is contained in the following paragraph
York Times story.
So, Obama’s personal re-engagement is not for the purpose of getting
a real peace process going by reading the riot act to Netanyahu.
With his legacy probably occupying more and more of his quiet
thinking time, Obama is preparing to play his own part in the blame
game – covering his backside. My guess is that when the game ends,
Obama, rather than using the leverage he has to require Israel to be
serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept, will
walk away from the conflict and tell his fellow Americans and the
world that he can’t want peace more than the Israelis and the
I would like to be proved wrong.
My headline quote is poetic license.