[Published 2 April 2015]
President Obama has finally admitted the death of any renewed negotiations for a two-state solution between Israel and the PLO for the next several years - telling the media on 24 March:
“there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state even if there were a whole range of conditions and security requirements that might be phased in over a long period of time — which was always the presumption.”
President Obama has apparently accepted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s contention that such negotiations are not possible whilst conflicts involving radical Islam rage in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
President Obama had until now placed his faith in such negotiations:
“Now, I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties.”
The rise of Islamic State in June 2014 has created a new ballgame and new dynamic.
Islamic State’s possible spill-over into Gaza and the West Bank cannot be ignored by Obama when Israel is being requested by Obama to withdraw from part of the West Bank and cede part of its own sovereign territory to the PLO in accordance with President Obama’s vision enunciated in May 2011:
”.. the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps - so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Abandoning territory as Israel did in Gaza in 2005 — will require ironclad security guarantees.
President Obama’s pledge to degrade and destroy Islamic State is a work in progress that could take up to three years — as Secretary of State John Kerry openly admitted last September at a NATO Summit attended by President Obama and himself.
Six months later Kerry’s assessment has been thrown into serious doubt by Syria’s President Assad — who in a rare interview with 60 Minutes on 30 March declared:
"Actually ISIS [Islamic State] has expanded since the beginning of strikes — not like some Americans want to sugar coat the situation - to say that it is getting better, ISIS [Islamic State] is being defeated and so-on. Actually No — they have more recruits. Suggested estimates say they have 1000 recruits every month in Syria and Iraq. They are expanding in Libya and many Al-Qaeda affiliated organisations have announced their allegiance to ISIS.”
Israel cannot possibly be expected in these circumstances to negotiate with the PLO on establishing secure and recognized borders as stipulated by President Obama and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 — until Islamic State is finally degraded and destroyed.
President Obama has announced he is going back to the drawing board.
“the evaluation that’s taking place is specific to what happens between the Israelis and Palestinians going forward. We’ll continue to engage the Israeli government as well as the Palestinians, and ask them where they are interested in going and how do they see this issue being resolved. But what we can’t do is pretend that there’s a possibility of something that’s not there. And we can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen at least in the next several years.”
President Obama should — in such evaluation process - seriously explore the possibility of first demanding that President Mahmoud Abbas call Presidential and parliamentary elections in Gaza and the West Bank — last held in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Let democracy replace these repressive dictatorships.