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U.S. Pushing Mideast Peace Deal ‘Guaranteed’ To Be Completed in 2 Years

by on Monday, January 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm EDT in Middle East, World

Several news sources are reporting that the US Administration is about to propose a new Middle East peace initiative whereby Israel and the Palestinians would resume final status talks — suspended since Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s military excursion into Gaza) last year.  The proposal would be based on the following parameters:

1. The issue of permanent borders would be the first line of discussions, and this would be hammered out within nine months’ time.

The nine-month time limitation is being tied to Israeli’s temporary settlement freeze — set to expire in nine months’ time.  By mandating that permanent borders are established by the end of that moratorium, Israel will only be permitted to continue expansion within the areas that had been agreed upon by both parties.

The negotiations would be based upon the principles of ‘land swaps’ — something that had been prominent in previous peace negotiations.  Israel would be permitted to keep some of their illegal settlements in exchange for lands on the Israeli side of the 1967 borders.

2. The remaining discussions would be devoted to the contentious issues of Jerusalem and of Palestinian ‘right of return’ to Israel proper. And these would be completed within what remains of the two-year time frame.

Common Dreams, sourcing Agence France Presse, reports:

To entice both sides to agree to the deal, Washington is preparing letters of guarantee.

The Palestinians will get a letter guaranteeing that the two-year deadline will be final, with no delay. “If no agreement is reached, the Palestinians will request U.S. backing for their demand to receive an area equal in size to the territory under Arab rule prior to 1967,” Maariv said.

The Israelis will receive a note ratifying a letter that former U.S. president George W. Bush wrote to then Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in 2004, in which he said that a final status agreement will be based on the principle of land swaps that will allow Israel to keep its major settlement blocs.

Arab diplomats in Cairo told AFP last week that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration was drafting letters of guarantee, but did not provide details.

I’d be curious to know how this ‘guarantee’ ultimately determines ‘appropriate’ land swaps should the two sides remain at an impasse beyond the two-year deadline.

After all, if they can’t reach an agreement, then what exactly is the U.S. guaranteeing them?  — That the U.S. government would arbitrarily decide on land swaps for both parties?  If that’s the case, I doubt the Palestinians — knowing full well the U.S. is not a fair and ‘good faith’ mediator — would agree to that.

The U.S. might arbitrarily give Israel everything it wants (i.e. E. Jerusalem, and deny the Palestinians their lawful ‘right of return’), and in return just leave the Palestinians more waterless, contiguous, desert land to the already picked over bantustans upon which they currently reside.  And Israel, knowing their Lobby can guarantee U.S. political complicity, might find it in their best interest to let the two-year deadline pass, so they can get exactly the terms they want — not accorded to them at present, under international law.

Sounds like a Trojan Horse to me — i.e. get the Palestinians to agree to an evasive ‘guarantee’ that will ultimately work in Israel’s favor.

Yahoo News is reporting that the Palestinians, unlike their Israeli counterparts, were left out of the loop on this Obama Administration proposal:

“We have not received, neither officially nor in any other form, a plan from the American administration to bring about peace in the region,” Nimr Hamad, an aide to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP.

“Israel is trying with these media leaks to pressure president Abbas to enter into negotiations without a complete halt to settlements across all the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.”

Stay tuned …

The President’s Eloquent Words Are Beginning to Ring Hollow

by on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm EDT in Healthcare, Politics

After eight tumultuous years of deceit, incompetence, and ideological extremism emanating from the White House the entire world eagerly embraced the ushering in of the new American President and all the hope that his victory embodied.  I vividly recall the night Obama won: watching him give another spectacular speech on television, the tears of happiness filling the eyes of tens of thousands who ventured out into the cold Chicago evening to celebrate the country’s new beginning.  I remember seeing the faces of people all over the world – rejoicing, misty eyed at the historic significance of this momentous occasion.

President Obama represented several things to a lot of people.  He was an agent for change; an embodiment of ‘hope’ for so many who had lost it; one who answered to the people, and not the powerful interests (his campaign, after all, was largely funded by small $20-$50 internet donations).  He was masterful in articulating his policy positions, and after eight years of watching an incurious half-wit demonstrate again and again that he was unqualified for the highest office in the land, we believed Obama’s competency and honesty would right all that was wrong.  He would effectively clean up Bush’s mess.  Optimism ran amok.

And suddenly we’re in October 2009 – nine months after his inauguration – and all that hope and promise feels as far away as Martin Luther King’s final speech in Memphis, TN.  It has become crystal clear that the ‘change’ policies he outlined over and over again on the campaign trail have taken a back seat to his desire for bipartisan harmony.   It’s becoming obvious to all that this current approach will achieve neither.

The tens of millions who brought Obama to power were never about bringing some kind of reconciliation to the political establishment.  On the contrary, they were waiving ‘change’ posters in the streets, and yelling his ‘yes we can(s)!’  This grass routes movement was about the people – their lives.  Obama supporters couldn’t give a rats ass whether the Republicans and Democrats sang ‘Kumbaya’ together.  In electing Obama, the people rejected the status quo, and awarded Obama an overwhelming mandate to implement the change he promised.

And yet somehow Obama and his supporters’ messages must have got crossed, for he has tunneled all his energies into achieving Beltway bipartisanship, at whatever price.  Why?  Why is bipartisanship so prominent in his agenda?  Politicial disharmony in the federal government actually serves a vital role: it creates an environment of political checks and balances which otherwise would not exist in such a corruptive institution.  The last time there was harmony in Washington was immediately following the 9-11 attacks, and look where that got us: into the bipartisan authorization of the Iraq quagmire.

Each time Obama gives a new speech, I’m reminded why I voted for him, and then he and his staff proceed to undercut his very words.  He is unwilling to mark a line in the sand and mean it; unwilling to shake up the establishment; unwilling to make a few enemies in the pursuit of implementing the change he espouses.

The monumental concessions he’s willing to make on health care alone — his willingness to toss the public option, as well as to prohibit the government from negotiating with pharmaceuticals —  all in the name of bipartisanship, is nothing more than an insult to our sensibilities.  From health care reform, to forcing Netanyahu to end the ethnic cleansing (settlement expansion) in Israel, to pursuing torture investigations, to implementing meaningful wall street and TARP oversight, to climate change, to bringing our troops home, … the list goes on and on.  Either he’s just being consistently ineffective as a President, or perhaps we’ve all been duped.

This weekend, Saturday Night Live brilliantly flouted Obama’s inability to deliver the change he had once so eloquently promised us.  Let us hope Obama receives this comedy skit as a wake up call.  Because unfortunately, this caricature is beginning to stick, and before long it will define him.