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Posted at 5:11 PM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Reaction to collapse of Middle East talks

By Jennifer Rubin

Now that the Obama team has effectively abandoned its two-year effort to obtain a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis, advocates on both sides of the issue are weighing in.

The leftwing J Street -- which has opposed Iran sanctions, excoriated the Jewish state for building in its capital, escorted Richard Goldstone around Capitol Hill, drafted the "Gaza 54 letter" parroting Hamas on the Gaza blockade, and backed a raft of Israel-bashing candidates (all in the name of being "pro-Israel") -- has flipped sides and abandoned its obsession with the peace talks. After two years of touting Obama's efforts to mediate a deal, the Soros-backed group is now exhorting its members to write to the secretary of state to proclaim:

I support a new bolder and more assertive American approach to achieving a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now is the time for the United States to put its ideas on the table regarding borders and security. The urgency of the moment demands leadership and progress, not more talks and process. We all know the outlines of the conflict's resolution. Only the United States can help the parties to get there.

For those not up on the lingo, this is thinly disguised hectoring for the U.S. to impose a deal against Israel's wishes. Presumably, the administration has enough problems without going down that road.

Meanwhile, former deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams, who constructed a much more productive Israel policy than the current one (I don't mean to damn with faint praise), writes in the National Review about how the Obama team, most especially George Mitchell, bollixed things up:

One of the lessons Mitchell should have learned [from the Northern Ireland negotiations] is that when two parties have negotiated and are basically ready to go at it again, preconditions are poison. They are likely to prevent even a start to negotiations. Yet the very first thing he did in the Middle East was to impose the precondition that all Israeli construction, in Jerusalem as well as in West Bank settlements, be frozen. This precondition had never been raised before -- not by Egypt or Jordan, and not by the Palestinians -- and it was immediately obvious that Netanyahu would reject it. And that he did. But by raising it, Mitchell made it impossible for Abbas and his team to get to the table: How could they let Mitchell be more Palestinian than the Palestinians? How could they compromise on construction when the Americans were being adamant?

Abrams concludes with a constructive suggestion: Send Mitchell out to pasture. That would be something that, finally, has the potential to please both sides.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 8, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  American Jews, Israel, President Obama  
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Unfortunately the smartest man in the room (Obama) had it all wrong. But no one would tell the Emperor he had no clothes. When the Arab states, along with Israel were trying to impress upon us to use all measures to keep the bomb from Iran we instead focused on West Bank settlements. And the ridiculous notion of linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian situation and Iran and Afghanistan was proven wrong (as if we didn't know)from the Wikileaks documents that showed the Arab states practically begging us to confront Iran. As if the Iranians would stop trying to build the bomb if Israel stopped building houses. And then instead of supporting the Green Revolution we appeased the mullahs with foot rubs and promises if they only would play nice. And now for the final and worst move - the US imposed peace settlement. The only thing worse would be if Obama replaced Mitchell with Jimmy Carter to negotiate that deal.

Posted by: jay22 | December 8, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse


You don't know much about the history of the region. It was Bush to whom the Saudis appealed NOT to destroy Iraq, and then after they had destroyed the Sunni dominated government that was the only legitimate check on Iranian ambitions is was to Bush that they appealed to fix what he had broken and what his much wiser father had left alone.

Obama has been a bystander at the scene of the Bush administration multi-car pileup.

Would it be terrible of me to point out that you are so ignorant that you don't realize that Jimmy Carter was a key player in the only true peace accords that Israel has ever signed with one of their Arab neighbors?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 8, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with you that Bush targeted the wrong country. Iran was and remains the bigger problem.

But not only the Saudis but the Qatar minister just recently stated in public that we needed to be tougher with Iran and reports in today's paper have Egypt threatening to go nuclear if Iran gets the bomb. Arab countries scared to death of Iran is a current issue.

Obama a bystander? He made the Mid East peace talks his priority, he made Mitchell his chief negotiator. We could only wish that Obama was more of a bystander.

And it was not Carter who was the force behind the Mid East talks while he was President. Obviously it was Sadat who took all the risks and was rewarded with peace and a bullet.
Carter's obvious pro Palestinian and anti Israel feelings makes him a prime candidate for the Helen Thomas award.

Posted by: jay22 | December 8, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The Mitchell/Obama demand for an Israeli building moratorium will surely be remembered as one of the dumbest moves in American Middle East diplomacy -- though it's probably inconsequential because fruitful negotiations were impossible anyway.

Posted by: eoniii | December 8, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

The irrational focus on a settlement freeze was a political bone to Obama's base. One has to believe Obama agrees with the Lerner Tikkun one state lefties.

I shall be kind here and suggest that the original "strategy" had Egypt brokering reconciliation between Gaza and Fatah; and Turkey brokering a separate peace with Syria. Both failures that failed to change the U.S. brokering the final piece of the puzzle.

At least New York voters now know that Hillary was just pandering for votes...

Whatever Jimmy Carter when he was president is meaningless now that he loves Hamas.

The new step really should be to pressure the PA/Fatah to change their classroom textbooks, stop giving money that goes to anyone in Gaza, and pressure Abbas and Fayyad to hold elections. If Hamas wins control in Ramallah, at least everyone will know what the borders of a Palestinian state will be - what their current maps show: a Palestine and no Israel.

BTW, the fire trucks supplied by the PA for the Carmel fire only went to Arab Muslim villages. No prejudice there?

Posted by: K2K2 | December 8, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama ıs goıng to have to decıde soon whether he wants to be a two-term president, or whether he wants to have a Middle East peace deal. Like George Bush senior and Jimmy Carter before him, any American president who tangles with the Israeli lobby is going to wind up with one term in office. Obama can have one or the other but not both.

This is something that Israel owes the 4,000 Americans who laid down their lives in Iraq in order to topple the Saddam Hussein regime that was arming and encouraging the Hamas suicide bombers. Words cannot express the contempt that I feel toward the Israeli political establishment, and the American traitors here who support them over the national interests of our own country to impose a peace settlement and put an end to this bloodshed. If there ever was a rationale for a Jewish-only state, it has been long-gone from the actions of Israeli politicians who keep stealing Palestinian land year-after-year. It's high time for the US to support Palestinian efforts either for their own state, or for one-man, one-vote, to end this travesty of American taxpayer support for Israel's so-called democracy that disenfranchises 20% of its own (Arab) population while occupying another million Arabs on the West Bank and blockading another million Arabs in Gaza.

Posted by: armyofone | December 8, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Let's just wash our hands of that whole stinking cesspool.

Let them figure it out without ANY American involvement.

No American money.

No American weapons.

No American military personal.

No American anything.

Hey obummer, got any balls?

Posted by: rcubedkc | December 8, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the reply.

So Carter played no role in the big accords, we agree that Bush screwed up Iraq royally, but yet it's all Obama's fault that there is no peace in the Middle East.

Got it.

Actually Middle East peace was not a priority of Obama, nor is it a priority of the nations that exist there. That's why there isn't any, not because George Mitchell should have stayed in retirement.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 8, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Elliot Abrams and the other apologists for Netanyahu have very short memories. The Israelis insisted on pre-conditions before entering into talks several times in the past 20 years,. Granted most of the conditions had to do with restraining attacks on Israel (by nationalist nuts from Palestine and other areas) but on several occasions the attacks stopped and Israel did not go to the peace table. They insisted on other conditions. The bottom line is this: Israel is trying to change facts on the ground with settlements before they enter into peace talks. Everyone knows what a future two state solution will look like. Let the Israelis put a map on the table (after all they hold the upper hand) and make a real gesture to peace -- as opposed to dragging out talks endlessly because they really don't want a two state solution with a viable Palestinian state.

Posted by: pfkfan | December 8, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Palestine is imaginary. Jordan and Egypt lost any claim to disputed territory after repeated hostile aggression and the rest of the Arabs should exercise their right to return to Jordan. Israel needs to exert itself a bit, take whats necessary to ensure its boarders, and impose a solution however it sees fit. That's what happens after wars. Did anyone ask the Nazis where they felt like going after ww2? How about how the British wanted to handle DC after our independence? Wars are horrible, but they serve a purpose and that is to solve irreconcilable differences. I have no sympathy for Arabs who started the mess they're in.

Posted by: batigol85 | December 8, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer Rubin is another Israel-firster at the Post. We need to stop groveling to Israel and AIPAC and put American interests first.

Posted by: David77 | December 8, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

The liberals are "clinging" to a Lame Duck Session of a Congress in which they NEVER had the support of the American People.

In all my life, I can not believe that the liberals would hijack our American government to such an extent.

The liberals have turned into totalitarian socialists - that is the ONLY way to describe this hijacking. I am sorry to say but that is the truth. At no time in American history would ANY of this be acceptable.

AND the liberals won't stop.

The liberals are acting and talking like they are entitled to this lame duck session - like somehow they are entitled to the US government doing what they want. They are NOT entitled to anything except what the "consent of the governed" has given them - and CLEARLY THEY DO NOT HAVE THAT. This lame duck session is the MOST UNDEMOCRATIC AND TOTALITARIAN SOCIALIST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

I hope these liberals are happy with themselves.

I find it the most shameful episode in American history.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 2:49 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it, Israel was not created for the sake of Peace. And no matter what objective was there, Peace will not be achieved in the middle east while Israel is there.
I am glad we reached a dead end in those negotiations. This will hopefully lead to the collapse of US standing in that region (and collapse of US allies there).
Of course, on those ruins will emerge a victorious Iran.
That will be the first step towards reaching a long-lasting Peace in the whole region...

Posted by: Kinesics | December 9, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

For the historically impaired, here are a few facts.
Israel was created following the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine, which was at that time under a British Mandate. The Plan(check it out) was HIGHLY favorable to the Palestinians. The Israelis did not even get Jerusalem. The Israelis accepted, the Arab world attacked. Everything today stems directly from this rejection. But even in 1964, when Arafat founded the Palestine Liberation Organization(read the words), there were no "occupied territories",unless, of course, you mean Israel itself, which is precisely the Palestinian position today.To suggest that the 2003 Iraq war was waged on behalf of Israel, one has to be an idiot or worse. Unless one is incapable of reading UN Resolution 1441, or noting that the US Congress and Senate voted rather comprehensively in favor. But maybe people who think this are thinking of another Israel, not the one that was asked(and agreed) to tolerate Iraqi Scuds without retaliation during the first Gulf war.The Palestinians are the unfortunate victims of their own miscalculations, aided and abetted by the mavens who run Egypt, Jordan,Syria and the rest of the Arab world.And the Palestinian death rate at the hands of the Israelis averages the RATE of traffic fatalities in the USA. Deplorable but hardly Auschwitz. Or even Jenin. Their solution has always been obvious. Accept the Jewish state and turn yourself into South Korea or Singapore. With full Israeli assistance. Very simple.

And it's always interesting to see more anti-Israel posts than those critical of the Arab world. For those who do this, using Israeli-developed technology, or Israeli generic drugs, or (it's really hard to avoid Israeli ingenuity), think why you persist in bending over backwards for an Arab world that subjugates its women, executes its gays and cheers 9/11.The USA supports Israel because the vast majority of Americans are smart enough to understand this.

Posted by: melk2 | December 9, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Americans have three choices
Support Iran - the country actively supporting terrorists, killing American soldiers and threatening our allies across the globe.
Support Israel - the only democracy (along with Iraq) in the Middle East and not killing Americans
Stick our head in the sand - which gives the terrorist states the space they need to get more power and threaten us on our homeland.
Supporting Israel is supporting America's interests abroad

And to 54465446 - putting words in other people's mouths seems to be the only way to prove you're right - I did not say Carter had no role but that Sadat deserved most of the credit - he took the biggest risk. And I never said that no Mid East peace is all Obama's fault. His policies have made things worse - no Mid East is mostly the fault of the Palestinians that don't want peace. When Olmert offered 98% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem their answer was no. They want all of Israel - otherwise they would at least acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

Posted by: jay22 | December 9, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

armyofone wrote: "This is something that Israel owes the 4,000 Americans who laid down their lives in Iraq in order to topple the Saddam Hussein regime that was arming and encouraging the Hamas suicide bombers."

First, then PM Sharon actually told Bush that invading Iraq would be a bad idea, and that Iran was the threat. The Iraq war opened the gate for Iranian expansion, and thus was certainly not fought for Israel's sake.

Second, Sunni Saddam most certainly did not support Shiite Hamas. He did make token payments to the families of suicide bombers, but nothing more. The current Iraq government is more invovled with terrorism than Saddam ever was.

The rest of armyofone's posting is garbage as well.

Posted by: MeMyself1 | December 9, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse


I afraid the historically impaired one is you.

1)In 1947, and for many years thereafter there were no such thing as Palestinians. Ethnographically, linguisitically and every other way they don't exist. They are simply Arab refugees. Palestine was the British name for the area, which later on became attached to the refugees. The Israelis were attacked, defended themselves admirably and get to keep what they took as the spoils of war, no problem there.

2)No one that I have seen in this column has suggested the Iraqi war was waged on behalf of Israel.

3)"And the Palestinian death rate at the hands of the Israelis averages the RATE of traffic fatalities in the USA. Deplorable but hardly Auschwitz" Since the Palestinians and the Arab world in general has nothing to do with Auschwitz, this is a non-sequitir.

4)"For those who do this, using Israeli-developed technology, or Israeli generic drugs" Again I'm not reallys sure what you're getting at. The Israelis did not develop the generic drugs they now manufuacture after they came off patent. In fact the average American household has little or no Israeli developed technology, but the average Israeli household has a lot of American developed technolgy, and if manufacturing counts, then you should be grateful not to Israel but to the Chinese/Asians who manufuactured the comuter you wrote this on, as well as the router and modem that enabled you to send it out over the internet.

People like yourself simply will never accept that support for Israel does not include slavish devotion to it's foreign policy goals over our own. You don't have to support terrorism or Arabs in general to say that America needs to pursue it's own policy, not Israel's.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

For the past 50 years the Palestinians have waged a war to destroy Israel. They are still waging that war and there is nothing that anyone, including Obama, the Israelis, or anyone else, can offer them that will change this.
This is why every single peace plan, proposal, suggestion, or idea has and will fail.
This is not to say that there is nothing that can be done or said. For example, if Obama really wants to advance the peace negotiations, he could publicly demand that the Palestinians completely stop, once and for all time, their constant demonization of Israel and their attempts to internationally delegitimize the Jewish State. Obama might also demand that the Palestinians publicly state that they recognize Israel as a Jewish State and a legitimate country in the Middle East. But most of all, Obama could publicly tell the Palestinians that they must come up with a compromise peace proposal of their own, which guarantees Israeli security nd borders, which does not include flooding Israel with Palestinian refugees, and that once the conflict is settled, there will be no more demands by either side of any kind, not over the borders, not over financial compensation, and not over refugees.
Of course this would take a rare courage and tenacity on the part of Obama, or for any American President for that matter. Worse, the Palestinians would almost certainly reject such proposals out of hand immediately.
And yet without at least some Palestinian flexibility on these issues, and of course a declaration on their part that they will no longer countenance the use of violence and terrorism, there is absolutely no chance of the Israeli Palestinian peace negotations achieving anything ever.
In order for there to be peace, the Palestinians have to want peace, but for the past 50 years, and yes even today, the Palestinians are still holding out for destroying Israel and the Jews.

Posted by: Beniyyar | December 9, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse


We get it, and you're right there is absolutely no basis for successful peace negotiations at this time.

1) Why keep invoking Obama, since as you have illustrated he cannot make this work and

2) Why keep making the same point, since no one is arguing the oppostie side, i.e. that the negotiations stand any chance of success?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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