Friday, August 20, 2010

Netanyahu & Abbas to Meet in D.C. on Sept. 2nd

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct talks in Washington D.C. on September 2nd.

Hillary believes all will be resolved within a year. Well, er, lots of luck with that.

In case you think I am being unnecessarily sarcastic it is worth remembering that the Bush Administration also thought matters could be resolved within a year between Abbas and then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Remember Annapolis?

In January 2008, I wrote about how the Bush Administration, beginning its final year in office, needed a Middle East peace agreement to boost its legacy given the uncertainty which prevailed in Iraq at the time (and, of course, still does) and that any agreement would likely come at Israel's expense. Of course, nothing would come to pass.

So here we are with the Obama Administration spitting in the wind with the economy, the costs of Obamacare, Afghanistan and the Ground Zero Mosque overwhelming them. What can they do? When in doubt bring Israel and the Palestinians stateside for a summit to give the appearance of doing something.

But this time around I am even less optimistic about this round of peace talks. Given that President Obama has behaved as if he were an advocate for the Palestinians and advocated things the Palestinians themselves weren't advocating (i.e. demanding a halt to construction in East Jerusalem) I don't have the confidence he can act as an honest broker. Nor do I have much confidence in Hillary and her shrill phone calls to Netanyahu.

It will be a nice photo-op and nothing more. That is, of course, assuming Obama doesn't walk out on Bibi again.

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