Welcome to the pathetic state of US-led “peace-making” in the Middle East:
A Republican invitation for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress next month is highlighting the tensions between President Obama and Mr. Netanyahu and has kicked off a bizarre diplomatic race over who will be the first to lay out a new proposal to reopen the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
For three months, White House officials have been debating whether the time has come for Mr. Obama to make a major address on the region’s turmoil, including the upheaval in the Arab world, and whether he should use the occasion to propose a new plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
One administration official said that course was backed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the president himself, but opposed by Dennis B. Ross, the president’s senior adviser on the Middle East.
As the administration has been pondering, Mr. Netanyahu, fearful that his country would lose ground with any Obama administration plan, has been considering whether to pre-empt the White House with a proposal of his own, before a friendly United States Congress, according to American officials and diplomats from the region.
“People seem to think that whoever goes first gets the upper hand,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a director at the New America Foundation. Using Mr. Netanyahu’s nickname, he said: “If Bibi went first and didn’t lay out a bold peace plan, it would be harder for Obama to say, actually, despite what you said to Congress and their applause, this is what I think you should do.”
The political gamesmanship between the two men illustrates how the calculation in the Middle East has changed for a variety of reasons, including the political upheaval in the Arab world. But it also shows the lack of trust and what some officials say is personal animosity between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu.
White House officials are working on drafts of a possible proposal, but they have not decided how detailed it will be, or even whether the president will deliver it in a planned speech. If Mr. Obama does put forward an American plan, officials say it could include four principles, or terms of reference, built around the final status issues that have bedeviled peace negotiators since 1979.
The terms of reference could call for Israel to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. For their part, Palestinians would have to accept that they would not get the right of return to land in Israel from which they fled or were forced to flee. Jerusalem would be the capital of both states, and Israeli security would have to be protected.
Reading this report in the New York Times makes one realise how utterly disconnected to reality are the American and Israeli political elites. Mainstream Zionist fascism is ignored. Anybody want to complain about this?
“Do you want your grandson to be named Ahmed ben Sarah?” a street poster slapped on the walls of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods inquires, in a not-so-subtle dig at the Yesh retail chain.
The problem the authors of the broadside (pashkevil, in Hebrew ) have is that Yesh, the Haredi arm of the Super-Sol supermarket chain, allows Arab men to work alongside Jewish women.
The poster features the Yesh logo next to a photograph of two employees chatting – or as the poster puts it, “An Arab man courting a daughter of Israel at the Givat Shaul branch.”
TheMarker has discovered that the organization behind the pashkevil is Lehava, a Hebrew acronym for “Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land.” (Don’t confuse it with the Finance Ministry division called Lehava, which is devoted to narrowing digital gaps in Israeli society. )
“One of the biggest problems today is that Jewish employees at retail chains are assimilating with Arab employees,” said Bentzi Gupstein, one of the anti-assimilation group’s leaders. “Just two weeks ago a Jewish woman working at a branch of Shefa Shuk in Jerusalem left a Haredi home and went to live with an Arab employee she’d met at the store.”
“We are publicizing the problem to make people understand that there is a problem, and to encourage people to buy from places that hire Jewish labor. The posters influence the Haredi community,” Gupstein added.
In this environment, whether Netanyahu or Obama gives the first speech in the coming months just seems utterly irrelevant.