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A pro-Israel hawk to draft Kerry’s peace plan?

That one must be a pro-Israeli Zionist in order to be eligible for the State Department’s Israel-Palestine team is indicative of the problem with U.S. policy in the region. You’ll never see an analyst from a PLO-affiliated advocacy organization or Palestinian think-tank become a senior member of the U.S. Mideast peace team.

New member of the U.S. delegation to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks David Makovsky (Photo: Screenshot from Washington Institute)

Middle East analyst David Makovsky joined U.S. envoy Martyn Indyk’s peace team this week, Laura Rozen reported Monday. Makovsky, A Zionist Jew, former editor of the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, was until now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. AIPAC and Indyk – then a researcher for the Israeli lobbying organization – were the driving force behind the institute, though AIPAC is no longer affiliated with the Institute.

Makovsky is considered a two-state hawk and is very close to Denis Ross, another former envoy to Israel/Palestine (the two co-authored a book on the issue). In an op-ed for the New York Times a few months ago, Makovsky called on the EU to “get tough” with the Palestinians and force them into talks with Israel. The piece also stated that Europe should publically reject any Palestinian return to the State of Israel. This position places Makovsky at the center-right of the Israeli political spectrum, since both the Geneva Accord and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Annapolis offer suggested a limited, agreed-upon Palestinian return.

Read a response to this article: ‘I am pro-Israel too’

Makovsky’s signature work in the last couple of years is a set of two-state maps that would allow Israel to annex most West Bank settlements, along with “fingers” leading to them at the heart of the Palestinian state, in exchange for desert land that would be handed to the Palestinians at a 1:1 ratio. In defining the land Palestinians would hand Israel, these maps also exceed anything that was negotiated in the (non-binding) Geneva talks. The maps don’t include any reference to Jerusalem’s status, probably because the current Israeli government rejects territorial compromise in the city.

You can see Makovsky’s maps on the Washington Institute’s site, side-by-side with the Geneva map and – incredibly – a map based on Lieberman’s idea of handing the Palestinians areas currently populated by Arabs citizens of Israel, along with their (undesired) residents.

It is very likely that those maps are what got Makovsky into Indyk’s team. Israeli media recently reported that the American negotiators are perparing to present their own two-state maps. Assuming that Makovsky and Indyk are not seriously considering the Lieberman map, it’s possible that the American offer will be based on Makovsky’s work at the Washington Institute, which is a non-starter for any credible Palestinian leader.

It is telling of the problem with U.S. policy in the region that one must be a pro-Israeli Zionist in order to be considered eligible for the State Department’s Israel-Palestine team. Indyk’s team includes a variety of personalities representing political views ranging from the Israeli Center-Left to the Israeli Center-Right. You’ll never see an analyst from a PLO-affiliated advocacy organization or Palestinian think-tank become a senior member of the U.S. Mideast peace team; even the idea sounds absurd.

But even within the narrow framework in which Washington’s Israel-Palestine policy is constructed, the Ross-Makovsky approach never worked. It is based only on constantly re-drawing maps in order to satiate Israel’s growing appetite for land, all while applying enormous pressure on the Palestinian Authority to play along. The possibility, even as a completely hypothetical exercise, that Israel prefers maintaining the status quo over ending the occupation is not part of the Ross-Makovsky playbook, so any confrontation with the Israeli government – no matter how rejectionist or right wing it might be – is also out of the question. Under those circumstances, a breakthrough is highly unlikely (and expect the Palestinians to be blamed; that’s also part of the playbook).

Is the Obama administration cooking up ‘Oslo 3’?
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    1. Giora Me'ir

      Honest broker? What a laugh.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      As the saying goes in Israel: The Americans got their heads shaved from one side and then the other. Loosely translated, the Americans have lost ALL credibility from both sides.

      Incredibly, George W. Bush had more credibility and success in the Middle East than Obama has, as he actually managed to get Israel to do something positive and quit some Palestinian territory. Obama, on the other hand, has been nothing short of a disaster on Middle East policy.

      Reply to Comment
    3. My impression of Kerry is that he is a Boston Brahman who can’t quite understand why people won’t do what their told. I think he is right about trajectory, but doesn’t understand, or is acting so to try and push matters, that a crucial part of the present coalition government doesn’t care.

      As to land swaps, what’s the point of swaps to Gaza when they aren’t playing? It is as though the US is playing a card game the other players have abandoned.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        ” the US is playing a card game the other players have abandoned.”

        That sums it up perfectly.

        I don’t care whether a negotiator is pro-Israeli or a Zionist, What’s needed more than anything is Realist. And since Kerry seems to be just another Secretary of State toying with the idea of standing in an upcoming Presidential election, the lassitude with which both Palestinians and Israelis have observed his efforts over the first few months of his peace negotiations has been justified.

        Even if both parties sign on the dotted line with the approval and support of our latest ally Saudi Arabia, the deal will only be the start of a new phase of the conflict, not its resolution. Leaving aside the results of America’s previous efforts at peacemaking in the region, the growing agonies of Lebanon and Syria would serve as a warning if realism was in their makeup.

        The basic ingredient needed was missing. Protagonists need to want to make peace in order to begin negotiations.

        Reply to Comment
        • shmuel

          “I don’t care whether a negotiator is pro-Israeli or a Zionist”: Exactly, you don’t care, but perhaps for the occupied it matters.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            During last century there was a myriad of negotiators of all kinds, who offered miscellaneous solutions.

            However, only one solution was approved by Palestinian Arabs – that of Adolf Hitler.

            Reply to Comment
          • Paul B

            @ The trespasser

            wrong the palesinians sided with the germans nazis for the same reason that the zionist tried to side with the nazi germans because the land they wanted as their own was occupied by the british

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            See Dahlia Scheindlin’s latest piece on the subject.

            The boxes and labels don’t describe anything and just encourage polarities. Someone pro-Israel (and I’d even add Zionist so that you can throw another stone at me) is, in theory, capable of Realism and Pragmatism.

            Reply to Comment
        • SH, Kerry already ran for President and lost. I think the last former loser to run again was Nixon, who did win second time around. Now, however, there seems to be an unwritten rule that losers don’t get a second go, and Kerry will come out so bruised from his Secretariat to make that foregone.

          I think Kerry really believes in what he is doing; its kind of an Eastern liberal arrogance (I being a liberal, mostly). The Administration wants progress towards coexistence (not under a gun) somewhere in the Middle East and likely worries about future terrorism otherwise. Given the mix of the Israeli governing coalition’s response and Gaza I see nothing but more evidence that Greater Israel is inevitable. As I’ve said hereon before, working toward an economic confederation with the WB strikes me as much more realistic than drawing maps which include land swaps for Gaza.

          I think the right nationalist settlement faction have won. The problem now is what to do with their win.

          Reply to Comment
          • sh

            I defer to you on Kerry and agree with you about the rest. That means some very tough times ahead.

            Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          To expand the point a little, observation tells us that the US is intentionally being left playing a disingenuous (fake, flim-flam) card game that it is told is very important (a breakthrough any day now, look how important you are) as a subterfuge (lie, deceit) to keep the US occupied (ha! no pun intended) while Israel carries on with its Zionist manifesto, the reason it was created.

          Reply to Comment
    4. William Fuller

      I hope that you have not just learned of the U.S. practice of appointing Jews, Zionist or otherwise, to any and all positions having to do with questions about Israeli-Palestinian relations. This has been the cowardly U.S. practice for years now.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ahmad Abumaraq

        MR FULLER Thank you very much for clrifying to the world the one sided American policy about the Middle East CONFLICT.REMEMBERING THAT NEOCON ZIONISTS CONTROL THE MEDIA ECONOMY AND POLITICS IN USA.

        Reply to Comment