More on the Middle East Peace Process

There is a column in the Guardian by Jonathan Freedlander which discusses some of what I wrote about in my previous post. In it he writes about some reasons that the Obama administration decided to ramp up the pressure following Israel’s tactical blunder last week. One, just plain anger at the slap in the face. Second, showing the Middle East that the US is ready to be a proper negotiator:

There are other explanations for the US decision to hit back hard. One is that Obama is seizing on the Biden row to send a message to the Arab world: to show that he won’t be pushed around by Israel. This view has been given extra traction by a Foreign Policy article [SERIOUSLY COMPULSORY READING] reporting that a team of senior officers from US Central Command recently briefed the top brass at the Pentagon, declaring that Israeli intransigence was damaging US standing in the region, and that Arab leaders now deemed the US too weak to stand up to its Israeli ally.

Just yesterday, in testimony before the Senate armed services committee, General David Petraeus, the commander of Centcom, echoed that message, arguing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict posed a threat to America’s interests, that it "foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel", and that "anger over the Palestinian question" aided al-Qaida and other jihadist groups in their efforts to recruit support. Such views have long been conventional wisdom among liberal critics of Israel, but to hear such talk out loud from America’s most senior soldier in the field is breathtaking. Perhaps Obama has taken the Centcom warnings to heart and is trying to make amends.

Even military intelligence believes being seen as Israel’s unswerving, non-rebuking friend is not in America’s interests. I’m almost certain that they are not pinko communists. (Unless there is a massive conspiracy to throng the military with communists that I haven’t heard).

He also thinks that the “three demands laid down by Hillary to Bibi – the cancellation of the Ramat Shlomo construction; a confidence-building gesture towards the Palestinians; and talks on core, rather than technical, issues…” are very important. Together, but especially the third, they should send a message that the US is ready to start serious peace talks and that if Israel is ready to do that they should take this opportunity (the Palestinians should also show that they are ready to begin serious talks).


I heard the argument that bringing about peace with Palestine will allow Israel to build an anti-Iranian coalition with Sunni nations like Egypt and, presumably Saudi Arabia who also feel threatened by Iran. I think it sounds plausible and just adds to the evidence that a solution is better than remaining with the status quo.

By the way, I’m positively giddy that parts of my amateur analysis are shared by  others more knowledgeable.

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