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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Return to realism: There won't be a Middle East breakthrough

By Jennifer Rubin

When we last read a piece by former Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller, he had zigzagged from chiding the believers in the "religion" of the peace process to sunny optimism that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could get things on track. Now, thankfully, Miller is back to his earlier brand of realism, stating that "it should be clear to all but the interminably obtuse" (and the intentionally obtuse, I would add) that a breakthrough in peace talks isn't possible in the forseeable future. He asserts that "the cooler heads in the Obama administration know this. Particularly the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the new national security adviser, Tom Donilon." Now they just need to convince the president.

Miller urges Obama to focus on attainable items, not a Middle East peace breakthrough. So Miller advises:

First, stay out of the United Nations. Don't encourage the Palestinians to believe that the United States will vote for, or even abstain on, resolutions that criticize the Israelis on settlements. Or support efforts to recognize Palestinian statehood. It's a key to an empty room. That will come only through negotiations and U.S. mediation in the region -- not in New York.

Second, support Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's institution building on the West Bank, especially in the economic and security areas;

Third, use the absence of direct talks -- which have rarely produced sustained breakthroughs in any case -- to press both sides separately, at a high level, on where they are on the core issues. Do this for three months -- and see where the gaps are and what the chances are for bridging them;

Fourth, probe for signs of life on the Israeli-Syrian talks.

I'd stop at No. 2. On the list of farcical exercises, the search for an Israeli-Syrian breakthrough ranks high. But Miller's return to realism should be applauded. We can only hope that the "interminably obtuse" don't include the president.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 24, 2011; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Comments

Obama has to first absorb the reality that Hezbollah is about to control Lebanon's government, whilst waiting for daily health reports from Mubarak, and the next leaks of Palestine Papers (must be rather embarrassing to discover that the PA had agreed to Ramat Shlomo staying Israeli in 2008 - which makes the big Obama-Hilary fuss in March 2010 look extremely stupid).

Obama is probably happy to focus entirely on North Korea and Af-Pak, and let the ME dominoes fall where they may...

Posted by: K2K2 | January 24, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama has to first absorb the reality that Hezbollah is about to control Lebanon's government, whilst waiting for daily health reports from Mubarak, and the next leaks of Palestine Papers (must be rather embarrassing to discover that the PA had agreed to Ramat Shlomo staying Israeli in 2008 - which makes the big Obama-Hilary fuss in March 2010 look extremely stupid).

Obama is probably happy to focus entirely on North Korea and Af-Pak, and let the ME dominoes fall where they may...

Posted by: K2K2 | January 24, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The "Peace Process" is a fool's errand, as even the fools seem to have realized. Until there's a Palestinian peace partner that accepts Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, there can never be peace. Hamas, the PA, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah believe they're winning in their long campaign to destroy Israel. The left and the UN are firmly on their side. Fortunately, Obama has an election to worry about, which neuters him for the next two years.

Posted by: eoniii | January 24, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Fifth: Let the Israelis decide how to make peace and on what terms, and stay the hell out of it enirely until there is a signing ceremony.

It's a win - win proposition.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"Second, support Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's institution building on the West Bank, especially in the economic and security areas; "

What a shame that Miller has been made to wipe the egg off his face in light of the release of the Palestinian papers that make a mockery of his suggestions?

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 24, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 24, 2011 12:19 PM
“Until there's a Palestinian peace partner that accepts Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, there can never be peace. Hamas, the PA, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah believe they're winning in their long campaign to destroy Israel.”

As the Palestinian Papers have revealed, the problem is not a Palestinian peace partner, it's the fact that Israel has never had any incentive to negotiate in good faith.

Araft recognized Israel and it got him nowhere, so accepts Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state (which no state in the world has done) will yield nothing.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 24, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 3:14 PM
“Fifth: Let the Israelis decide how to make peace and on what terms, and stay the hell out of it enirely until there is a signing ceremony.”

That's a bit like leaving a rapist and his victim in a room alone together to reconcile.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 24, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Shingo:

C'mon now. LOL

So far I like your stuff because it's fact based, even though we are not always in tune.

My point above is that there can be no peace imposed by an outside power, any outside power. So the smartest thing to do is to stop pretending we have the answers or even the right questions, for the parties who ultimately have to answer to each other.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 8:26 PM
“My point above is that there can be no peace imposed by an outside power, any outside power.”

I disagree on multiple counts John. Here's why:
1.Israel holds all the cards in this conflict, hence they have no incentive to make a deal, and without them facing consequences for the policies, they have no reason to stop doing what they are doing.
2.In he case of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait, outside power most certainly imposed peace.

For the US to claim is cannot force the Israelis to stop building settlements is grossly dishonest. The US could do it tomorrow if they wanted.

I am also curious as to what you mean by letting the Israelis decide how to make peace. Again, I would argue that the reason Israel has not made peace with it's neighbours is because they haven't had to. Their military superiority (thanks to us) and their diplomatic protection (thanks to us), has made Israel feel invincible. Had the US not provided the huge amounts of financial and military aid since 1967, I suspect the IP conflict would have been resolved a long time ago, because Israel would have had to seriously explored the avenue of negotiation.

So with all due respects, when you suggest that we should leave the Israelis and Palestinians to sort out their differences , it rings hollow.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 24, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

The Economist reports that Syria's economic distress is such that they intend to sell $55BILUSD in the global bond market. Maybe Ms. Rubin could make that the Friday question: who will buy Syria bonds? at what interest rate? Is that Islamic?

shingo fact based. oh spare me the Big Lie. Any country who maintains diplomatic recognition of Israel is recognizing Israel as a Jewish State.

THE DECLARATION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL
May 14, 1948
"...ACCORDINGLY WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE'S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.
...
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

..."

Posted by: K2K2 | January 24, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

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