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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/ 6/2011

There is no peace deal to be had, even with Hillary Clinton's help

By Jennifer Rubin

Of late, former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller has grown skeptical of the "peace process," suggesting that it is akin to a cult. The peace process is perpetuated, he has argued, by an unsupportable "dogmatic creed." He seemed to grasp that the problem was not about American will or the ingenuity of the deal makers. He declared himself no longer a "believer" in the ability of diplomats to come up with the perfect formula to end the conflict, and he adopted the view that the vast gap between the parties made a deal impossible.

But now it appears he is back to sipping the "peace process" Kool-Aid. What we really need, he asserts in Foreign Policy, is a strong secretary of state to spin the dials, move the levers and bring home a deal. He argues that "what has worked in the past -- which really is prologue on this issue -- is a structure run by the secretary of state who (through an envoy with a team) is empowered by the president to craft a workable strategy and implement it. That empowerment must be real and direct: Friends and foe alike must know that it's the secretary of state who really is authorized to speak for the president. While it's his policy, she is the go-to address. Any daylight between them is bad for business."

But then he catches himself. Might that not be the solution to the problem? He confesses: "All this of course raises the truly scary possibility that the administration's failures weren't a result of confusion or of too many cooks in the kitchen, but came about because everyone involved actually agreed with the approach taken." And even more fundamental is the problem Miller himself identified last year:

What I find difficult to reconcile is how you're going to get to a conflict-ending agreement which addresses the four core issues that have driven the Israelis and the Palestinians and brought each issue to a finality of claims. ... I just do not see how to do that given the gaps that exist and the inherent constraints on the leaders in the absence also of a real sense of urgency.

So isn't it fanciful, a product of the "false religion" of the "peace process," to pretend that swapping negotiators would pave the way to peace? Now, don't get me wrong: George Mitchell should be replaced. His absence in the final weeks of the triage intended to save the peace process revealed how unhelpful to the process he is. But let's not pretend that giving the reins to Hillary Clinton, who was fully involved in every step of the Middle East peace policy formulation up to this point, is going to make any difference.

One need only look at the latest developments in the region -- an alleged attempted coup against Mahmoud Abbas -- to conclude that there's no deal remotely in the offing. Elliott Abrams, the former deputy national security advisor and architect of George W. Bush's Middle East policy, offers this analysis of the jailing of an alleged plotter:

First, that Fatah remains in disarray. All efforts at serious reform and modernization have failed. . . . Second, that the gap between Fatah and the Palestinian Authority remains significant--and indeed is growing.

In other words, Clinton is utterly irrelevant. There simply is no deal to be had because there is no viable peace partner empowered and willing to make and enforce a deal with Israel.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 6, 2011; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Comments

From an American standpoint, is there benefit to ending the "peace process" charade altogether? My personal inclination is to tell both parties that the US isn't going to waste any political capital on a doomed process. If war ensues, then we assist democratic Israel as needed.

There may be aspects behind the scenes that force us to maitain the charade I suppose. However, my belief is that we'd be better served by swearing off the "peace process" and taking oxygen out of the myth that the "Palestinian issue" is some grand vexing problem that everyone in the Middle East has regarded as THE defining issue of the region.

If such a decision marginalizes (or worse) Abbas, so much the better. He's duplicitous and inept anyway. Better to have the clarity of a hard liner Palestinan in the West Bank than a two-faced "moderate" like Abbas in my opinion.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | January 6, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

What has everyone frustrated is that the Palestinians have made any peaceful settlement impossible. For years now most informed observers and even most of the non Palestinian negotiators came to the conclusion that the Palestinians would never negotiate a serious, good faith peace agreement with Israel.
With that stalemate in place, the various observers and parties mooted the possiblity of an imposed settlement that would heavily favor the Palestinians and seriously discriminate against Israeli interests. But this too was a non starter because in any agreement the Palestinians would at the very least have to publicly recognize Israel's international and regional legitimacy as the Jewish Homeland, probably have to once and for all agree to end the armed conflict with Israel, and finally have to agree it could make no further financial, territorial, or demographic demands against the Jewish State.
So now the Palestinian Israeli peace process promoters have to find a new and hopefully effective strategy to appease the Palestinians in order to keep at least the charade of peace talks going.
The Palestinians are not cooperating in the least which is making this search for a new approach as impossible as all the others.
In a noir sort of way it is entertaining to watch how the various players in this real human tragedy wriggle and twist to try to find some way, indeed any way, to finesse the Palestinians into even negotiating with Israel.

Posted by: kenhe | January 6, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Make up your mind Jennifer, you're all over the map on this!

You can't decide on any given day whether you want peace or you don't, whether you mock Clinton or you don't, whether you want democracy or you don't, whether you want a mediator or you don't.

Your waffling makes Romney look like a consistent person.

BTW, this statement:

" . . . Elliott Abrams, the former deputy national security advisor and architect of George W. Bush's Middle East policy"

should immediately disqualify any thoughts that follow, much like football advice from any coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 6, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

So Ms. Rubin decides who is a viable peace partner and who is not. The fact that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, publicly, and said: "You are my partner in peace" is irrelevant to her. The fact that Abbas effectively deals not only with threats to his regime and to the Palestinian public in the West Bank but also to Israel - with the public approval of Israel's top brass - is irrelevant. The fact that Abbas and his prime minister Salam Fayyad are effectively building the infrastructure for a future Palestinian state is irrelevant to her as well. The fact is that Abbas and Fayyad are worthy partners. They are the best Israel ever had, and most probably the best it can ever hope for. By dismissing them off-hand, Ms. Rubin is joining those who are nonchalantly willing to condemn Israel to eternal strife and bloodshed, to eternal occupation and international isolation, and - in the long term - to living in a bi-national state that is neither Jewish nor democratic. Thanks for your contribution, Ms. Rubin.

Posted by: orinir | January 6, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

both Mr Numbers person and "orinir" are wearing ideological blinkers.

What Mr Netanyahu said about Abbas matters not. do try to remember all those scant years ago when Yasser Arafat was such a promising partner for peace that the idiots on the left gave him a nobel. And where, oh where are we now?

The dynamic behind this is very simple, IMHO. In the muslim world each leader tries for some sort of influence and by extension some measure of hegemony.

the quickest path to massive influence is own the "tip of Allah's spear" and that tip is pointed directly at Israel. Own the muslim/jew conflict and gain enormous power within the muslim world.

Hence the rise of Iran couples nicely with the growth of groups they support in the Israeli border states.

Further, keeping the palestinians on the plantation with the appearance of misery and failure accords nicely with the muslim propaganda apparatus that has repeatedly fooled the liberals in the western press and those ignorant enough to believe a thing the press says about the issue at hand.
the basic fact is that no one from the arab/muslim world with any juice at all will seek peace with Israel. That's tantamount to signing their own death sentence. I'm sure that there are those in that world who would like there to be peace, but apparently no one who wishes for strongly enough to risk being thrown from a roof for its sake.

I have an easy solution to the problem: let the muslims fend for themselves. No UN aid, no idiotic peace process with expensive missions from the civilized world. No nothing but what they can generate on their own.

Peace will come quickly once the arab/muslim antagonists lose the funding mechanism that sustains their war.

In the meantime we face yet another generation of savages being reared by the palestinians. How many of you liberals out there have seen the latest indoctrination video from our "partners" in palestine? Chilling.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 6, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

skip:

If you can point to the successes in the Bush Middle East policy, I will be happy to consider your points.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 6, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Abbas is in the 73rd month of his 48 month term. Fayyad was appointed by Abbas. Neither are legitimate representatives of even the non-Gaza Palestinians.

I think having Catherine Ashton in residence in Ramallah, with a beach house in Gaza, is the best way to force the PA and Hamas to enter direct negotiations with Israel. I would think the Palestinians would eventually prefer to recognize a Jewish State just to get Ashton back to Europe :)

Posted by: K2K2 | January 6, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

No nothing but what they can generate on their own

Goose/Gander,Israel&Palestine,no aid for either.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 6, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

this is just the nadir of sense:
=========================
skip:

If you can point to the successes in the Bush Middle East policy, I will be happy to consider your points.

=============

thank you for proving the point I've made about your "contribution" here. All you have is a hatred of Bush. So bleeping what? Of what value is your comment to the furtherance of our discussion? Simple answer: zero.

Time to face it, Bush is gone. Mr Obama has been at it for two years. Even that skinny little huckster has toned down his Bush bashing. When will you get over yourself?

My point is dramatically different from yours. You see everything through the prism of your hatred. I work hard to see things as they are. And they way they are in the muslim jew conflict is now crystal clear. The muslims don't want peace. What that has to do with your question only someone mired in hatred such as yourself can answer.

It is sad for you I'm sure to spend your days gnawing those old bones of hatred while being incapable of moving on. What a waste of your potential.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 6, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

this is just the nadir of sense:
=========================
skip:

If you can point to the successes in the Bush Middle East policy, I will be happy to consider your points.

=============

thank you for proving the point I've made about your "contribution" here. All you have is a hatred of Bush. So bleeping what? Of what value is your comment to the furtherance of our discussion? Simple answer: zero.

Time to face it, Bush is gone. Mr Obama has been at it for two years. Even that skinny little huckster has toned down his Bush bashing. When will you get over yourself?

My point is dramatically different from yours. You see everything through the prism of your hatred. I work hard to see things as they are. And they way they are in the muslim jew conflict is now crystal clear. The muslims don't want peace. What that has to do with your question only someone mired in hatred such as yourself can answer.

It is sad for you I'm sure to spend your days gnawing those old bones of hatred while being incapable of moving on. What a waste of your potential.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 6, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

skip:

It must be vitriol day here at the Post! LOL

Your right, absolutely nothing happened before January 2009 in the Middle East that affects the situation today.

Actually, if you had been paying attention, I never bash Bush himself. He's a good man personally, from a good family. He unfotunately turned out to be poor judge of talent in his adminstration, and that led him astray the worst, in foreign policy.

For instance he was absolutely right to invade Afghanistan, but foolish to stay and try these failed nation building tactics in yet another country.

Elliott Abrams being another Republican chickenhawk is just a source of amusement to me, nothing more.

My real point is that Jennifer expresses diametrically opposed viewpoints on many aspects of foreign policy, but acts as if there were no internal inconsistencies.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 6, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

skipsailing28 | January 6, 2011 12:40 PM:

excellent comment. especially the part about "No UN aid, no idiotic peace process with expensive missions from the civilized world."

defund UNRWA. zero U.S. direct 'aid' to the PA.

and for all the lefties who moan about the U.S. 'aid' to Israel? It is a treaty obligation for the cold peace with Egypt, 100% military and 75% of it has to be spent on U.S. products. The attached strings no longer benefit Israel, who is barred by the U.S. from selling their technologies to countries like China.

In other words, zero for the PA, and I bet Israel would be willing to forgo the U.S. military contracts, especially when they are being coerced by the U.S. to sell their drone technologies to Turkey, who has allowed Syria (and thus Hezbollah) access.

NO more U.S. money to UNRWA or the PA. Let the PA fund their Swiss bank accounts with someone else's money...and time to stop pretending the palestinians are "refugees" unto the fifth generation. It is an embarrassment to the world that the tens of millions of real refugees are neglected in favor of professional refugees who now call themselves palestinians.

Posted by: K2K2 | January 6, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

and no more US dollars to buy weapons for either the PA, or Lebanon's military, which is like handing a check to Hezbollah.

Posted by: K2K2 | January 6, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"and for all the lefties who moan about the U.S. 'aid' to Israel? It is a treaty obligation for the cold peace with Egypt, 100% military and 75% of it has to be spent on U.S. products. The attached strings no longer benefit Israel, who is barred by the U.S. from selling their technologies to countries like China.
In other words, zero for the PA, and I bet Israel would be willing to forgo the U.S. military contracts, especially when they are being coerced by the U.S. to sell their drone technologies to Turkey, who has allowed Syria (and thus Hezbollah) access."

Israel should be able to sell whatever it wants/has to whoever wants to buy it. I could care less. If they sell to our enemies,then we'll have a more realistic view of our deep friendship. No aid to Israel,and no limits on what Israel can do in its own self interest;it sounds like Capitalism,doesn't it?

Posted by: rcaruth | January 6, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

K2K2 wrote:

"In other words, zero for the PA, and I bet Israel would be willing to forgo the U.S. military contracts, especially when they are being coerced by the U.S. to sell their drone technologies to Turkey, who has allowed Syria (and thus Hezbollah) access."

Sorry, you've done a "Rubinesque" turn on this one. The contract for the drones was signed 6 years ago with Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems. Far from being coerced, they bid to win the contract. Turkey, at one point threatened to sue the companies because of missed deadlines.

The Obama administration, far from coercing anyone has threatened to stop any of our own sales of drones to Turkey in a meeting last August with the Trukey PM, over the latter's conduct toward Israel.

So just like in the case of Aung San Suu Kyi the Obama adminstration is supposed to look bad over something that was really handled correctly.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 6, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Shut up, Jennifer.

Posted by: danw1 | January 6, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

A lot of fantasies are invested in the "Peace Process," and a lot of bureaucracies on those fantasies. Since we're talking about people capable of doing great harm, the question is, what would fill the vacuum opened by the the collpase of those fantasies and bureaucracies?

Posted by: adam62 | January 6, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Not only Clinton is utterly irrelevant. The U.S. pro-AIPAC BIAS -- and pro ILLEGAL Israeli Occupation, supported by $-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$ in cash Israeli CRIMINAL Military Operations -- makes Washington utterly irrelevant as a mediator.

Posted by: telavivPEACEagent | January 6, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

AP report from Sharm A Sheik had a serious error. It said: "Israeli, Egyptian leaders discuss peacemaking". It should have said: "Israeli, Egyptian leaders discuss artificial pacemakers" under U.S. Auspices.

* Shimon Peres‎, born 1923 as Szymon Perski in Poland is 87
* Hosni Mubarak, born 1928, is 82
* Just peace, was not born yet.

Posted by: telavivPEACEagent | January 6, 2011 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Rubin doesn't want Mideast peace, which is why she and her neocon pals use their lofty pundit perches in the MSM to try to place all blame on the Palestinians as an excuse for not actively supporting the peace process. Basically, if Israel has to give up one inch of anything, Rubin won't support it.

The fact is, neither Bibi or Abu Mazen are really credible partners for peace at this stage although Rubin might do well to educate herself:

http://coteret.com/2011/01/03/rejectionist-front-maariv-details-netanyahus-refusal-to-directly-negotiate-with-pa/

The notion that Bibi wants a 2 state solution is laughable. He was caught on tape after he left office last time around bragging about how easily manipulated the US is, how he can expand Israeli territory during negotiations under the guise of security and how he essentially did everything he could to undermine Oslo. Of course that video only made the rounds in Israeli media, not the US media because it conflicted with our narrative that Israel is always an honest broker and everything is always the Palestinians fault.

If anything, Bibi only wants little pockets of Palestinian bantustans with minimal sovereignty. A contiguous Palestinian state is nothing Bibi has ever championed. Nor will he ever give up the illegal expansion into E. Jerusalem.

I guess following international law is for other lesser nations, huh Jennifer?

Posted by: Stacyx | January 7, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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