If at the height of the anti-government protests in Tunisia last week, Israel and the Palestinians had signed a final peace deal, would the protesters have packed up their placards and gone home?
Of course not.
So what does it tell us about the nature of US Middle East policy that at the height of the anti-regime protests in Tunisia, the White House was consumed with the question of how to jump start the mordant peace process between the Palestinians and Israel?
According to Politico, as the first popular revolution in modern Arab history was in full swing, last week the White House organized two “task forces” to produce “new ideas” for getting the Palestinians to agree to sit down with Israeli negotiators. The first task force is comprised of former Clinton and Bush national security advisers Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley.
The second is led by former US ambassador to Israel under the Clinton administration Martin Indyk.
And as these experts were getting in gear, US President Barak Obama dispatched his advisor and former Middle East peace envoy under the Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 administrations Dennis Ross to Israel to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to ask them to put out “new ideas.” Amazingly, none of these task forces or meetings has come up with anything new.
Again, according to Politico, these task forces and consultations generated three possible moves for the Obama White House. First, it can put more pressure on Israel by announcing US support for a “peace plan” that would require Israel to surrender its capital city and defensible borders.
Second, the US can pressure Israel by seeking to destabilize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.
And third, the US can pressure Israel by pumping still more money into the coffers of the unelected Palestinian government and so raise expectations that the US supports the unelected Palestinian government’s plan to declare independence without agreeing to live at peace with Israel.
So much for new ideas.
Then there is the unfolding drama in Lebanon. It is hard to think of a greater slap on the face than the one Hizbullah and Syria delivered to Obama last Wednesday. Hizbullah brought down Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government with the open and active support of Syria while Obama was meeting with Hariri in the Oval Office.
And how did Obama respond to this slap in the face? By dispatching Ambassador Robert Ford to Damascus to take up his new post as the first US ambassador in Syria since Syria and Hizbullah colluded to assassinate Hariri’s father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri six years ago.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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