by Stan Goodenough
It suited the twisted political purposes of Israel’s extreme leftist newspaper, Ha’aretz, to headline its top story Tuesday morning with the warning voiced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the night before.
Boarding her flight to the Middle East to chair the much-anticipated renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the American pointed her perfectly manicured index finger at the camera and stated, according to the paper:
“Israel must extend the settlement freeze for the peace talks to succeed.”
Her blatancy should not have shocked Israelis.
She had upped the stakes two days earlier with the scaremongering assertion that “there may not ever be another chance” for the two sides to make peace.
Clinton is on the very same page as her boss in the White House who – while insisting on the impartiality of his brokerage – Friday clarified (for the few who were still unsure) which sides’ position he supported more.
“It makes sense,” he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for you “to extend the moratorium.”
Whether it made sense for the Palestinian Arabs to agree to Netanyahu’s demand that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, however, he did not say.
These two issues loomed as major stumbling blocks long before the parties booked their flights for the Washington photo opportunity that was held 10 days ago.
For those who may have forgotten, Netanyahu was pressured into agreeing to a moratorium on construction in Judea and Samaria 10 months ago as a “goodwill gesture” to help create an atmosphere conducive to restarting the long stalled negotiations.
No quid pro quo was forthcoming from the “Palestinian” side; not so much as a “we’ll consider it” when informed of Israel’s insistence that the Arab side recognize it specifically as a JEWISH state.
Netanyahu reiterated this expectation at the weekly cabinet meeting on September 12, but, again, has received no backing from Washington.
Instead we have Clinton’s unwavering focus on the Arabs’ demand – that Netanyahu continue to not build homes and businesses for Israelis in Samaria and Judea.
The end game is clear – and the Israeli leader must have known this, even as he sat down with Clinton and Abbas in Sharm e-Sheikh.
True to Obama’s word, when the US saw an obstacle in the way it singled out one party for extra pressure, and set it up for blame.
Clinton will naturally not accuse the Palestinian Arabs – who have taken not one single step backwards, who have taken not one risk for peace – in all the years since Madrid and Oslo.
She’ll not come down on Mahmoud Abbas’ head for saying through his spokesman Sa’eb Erekat last week that the “Palestinians” will “never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
As Sky News’ Middle East correspondent Dominic Waghorn told his viewers Tuesday:
Unless Netanyahu takes the “bold” step and agrees to extend the freeze, he will “risk incurring the wrath of the Americans.”
It has to be said, even at the risk of digressing from the main players for a moment, that like virtually every single foreign correspondent in Israel, Waghorn is proudly prejudiced in favor of the “Palestinians.” His reports caringly explain why the PLO cannot comply with Israel’s demands on the Jewish state question, while justifying the Arab demands on the settlement freeze because, of course, they “can’t be seen to be talking to people who are building on lands they want for their state.”
Which leads me to the opening of my follow-on article, in which I will explain why, after following the peace process from my home in Jerusalem for more than 20 years, including the recently unfolding efforts to renew this process, I have come to the place where I can no longer ignore this unpalatable truth:
That Israel IS to blame for the failure of the land-for-peace process.