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Good news: Obama gives the Palestinians an insurance policy

The president’s high-profile interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it extremely hard for the administration to blame the Palestinians for the expected failure of Kerry’s peace initiative.  

U.S. President Barack Obama (Center for American Progress/CC)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Center for American Progress/CC)

Obama’s interview with the Bloomberg news agency on Sunday, in which he basically blamed Netanyahu and exonerated Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for the intractability of the occupation, is a very important event, and very good news. With Netanyahu and Abbas jockeying to avoid the blame for the likely impending failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative, the Obama interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it very hard for the administration to do Israel’s bidding, as is its habit, by pointing the finger at the Palestinians if and when the talks, whose allotted time runs out on April 29, run aground.

At stake in the blame game is momentum: if Washington finds against the Palestinians, Abbas’ plans to take Israel to The Hague would stall, as would the “mainstreaming” of the BDS movement. If Washington finds against Israel, the effect would be the opposite. And if Washington blames neither side, then the rest of the world will be left to decide for itself, and its decision will likely be for the Palestinians. In the probable event of the talks failing, Israel’s only hope of avoiding an upsurge of world opposition – which is what Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, along with top Israeli business people, friendly foreign diplomats, Kerry and now Obama are trying to warn Israel against – is if Washington clears Netanyahu of responsibility and turns its wrath on Abbas.

Click here for +972 Magazine’s full coverage of the diplomatic process

But how can Washington do that after what Obama just said in that interview:

On Abbas:

I think nobody would dispute that whatever disagreements you may have with him, he has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue.

I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist, to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs, to shun violence, to resolve these issues in a diplomatic fashion that meets the concerns of the people of Israel. And I think that this is a rare quality not just within the Palestinian territories, but in the Middle East generally. For us not to seize that opportunity would be a mistake.

[Y]ou’ve got a partner on the other side who is prepared to negotiate seriously, who does not engage in some of the wild rhetoric that so often you see in the Arab world when it comes to Israel, who has shown himself committed to maintaining order within the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority and to cooperate with Israelis around their security concerns — for us to not seize this moment I think would be a great mistake.

On Israel’s current approach to the conflict:

I have not yet heard … a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario.

The only thing that I’ve heard is, “We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing, and deal with problems as they arise. And we’ll build settlements where we can. And where there are problems in the West Bank, we will deal with them forcefully. We’ll cooperate or co-opt the Palestinian Authority.” And yet, at no point do you ever see an actual resolution to the problem.

It’s maintenance of a chronic situation. And my assessment, which is shared by a number of Israeli observers, I think, is there comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?

On Netanyahu:

When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation: If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?

I believe that Bibi is strong enough that if he decided this was the right thing to do for Israel, that he could do it. If he does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach. And as I said before, it’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.

On settlements and the consequences of maintaining the status quo:

What I do believe is that if you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time — if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.

The condemnation of the international community can translate into a lack of cooperation when it comes to key security interests. It means reduced influence for us, the United States, in issues that are of interest to Israel. It’s survivable, but it is not preferable.

Even if, as expected, Kerry’s “framework agreement” for a peace treaty turns out to be tailored to Netanyahu’s demands, such that his coalition accepts it because it knows the Palestinians will have no choice but to turn it down, thus allowing Israel to “win” the blame game, I don’t see how the Obama administration can declare Israel the winner, not after what Obama just said in that interview. Such a declaration would have no credibility; it would be so obviously false as to embarrass Kerry and Obama.

I’m thinking that no matter who accepts or rejects Kerry’s framework agreement, Washington will not blame the Palestinians. The Obama interview is their insurance policy against that.  Or maybe, as Noam Sheizaf suggested, the situation is so hopeless that there isn’t going to be any framework agreement. Either way, Netanyahu and Israel come out looking like Goliath again, Abbas and the Palestinians like David, and the fight against the occupation gathers strength dramatically.

So thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Mr. Goldberg.

Read more:
An optimist’s case for the Kerry peace process
What does Kerry really think about his meetings with Bibi?
For the sake of peace, it is time to put an end to negotiations

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ginger Eis

      President Obama has never been the best friend of Israel. That we have always known and have been able to outmaneuver him all these years. Obama is timid when it comes to putting the enemies of Freedom, the Free World and the USA in their place, but brazenly courageous and loudmouthed when it comes to blackmailing, intimidating and boxing Israel (and other US-allies) around. Now President Obama is sounding bitter and vengeful, and is blowing the proverbial dog-whistle to Israel’s enemies indicating to them that Israel is alone and thus vulnerable enough for attacks. Clearly, Israel has very difficult days ahead, but in the end she will out-smart and outclass Obama and his gang of unofficial Muslim/far leftist Jihadi apologists masquerading as national security advisers.

      Reply to Comment
      • Lo

        “President Obama has never been the best friend of Israel.”

        Yeah, that explains the unprecedented military aid given to Israel (how’s that Iron Dome we paid for?) and the administration’s repeated use of the UNSC veto to defend Israel from sanctions.

        “but brazenly courageous and loudmouthed when it comes to blackmailing, intimidating and boxing Israel”

        I think the degree to which you go from 0-60 on the outrage scale reveals a lot. The current administration has bent over backwards to accommodate Israeli desiderata with regard to the Palestinians. However, since it has had the audacity to make the smallest possible demands on Israel to temper its policy, you equate that with a total repudiation of support. Truly remarkable.

        I might remind you that the administration of George H.W. Bush, specifically his chief of staff James Baker had the audacity to withhold loan guarantees in the face of Israeli intransigence. Would you say that his administration was similarly full of crypto-Muslims?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          (1). Everything President Obama said about Israel and Netanyahu in his Bloomberg conversation is (a) false (b) incendiary, (c) abhorrent and more importantly (d) totally unnecessary! There is a war of delegitimization based on falsehood going on against Israel and Obama uses the Office of The President of the United States to lend legitimacy to said delegitimization; (2)(a) The Iron Dome is PARTLY funded by the US, (b) it’s technology is Israeli and (c) said technology serves both countries. (3) Israel is grateful for US substantial, but partial funding of the Iron Dome and blockage unfair UN-resolutions against Israel, but only a fool brags about good deeds done to a friend and uses said deeds as instruments caricature of said friend, intimidation and blackmail. (4) The fact that you are not able to see at least the inaccuracy of Obama’s statements and immorality inherent therein reveals a lot.

          Reply to Comment
        • adam glasser

          Lo, you’re not talking any sense. Reading your comment I get the impression that you’re fuming with barely suppressed rage at my coreligionists, venting your spite and promoting needless hatred toward innocent, decent, humane folk like Ginger, who are just trying to educate you and warn you of the dangers of antisemitism. Stop it already! You’re killing me!

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            “Adam Glasser”/”Winston Smith”/etc., I am CERTAIN that Bob Wisby operates like the proverbial snake with multiple heads. ‘shows what kind of a human being he is. One would hope that the administration of this site will take at least minimal but urgent action – for the sake of their site. ‘nuff said.

            Reply to Comment
      • mike panzone

        ginger, ehud barak seems to disagree with you.

        in this interview he states that obama is doing, for the support of israel’s security and cooperation in intelligence, more than any president in history.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26xy6Gbb3XY

        Reply to Comment
      • hdave

        Hi Ginger.
        Can you explain to us how this “Muslim/far leftist Jihadi” conspiracy differs to the jewish banker/media/lobby conspiracy you keep railing against on other threads?

        Reply to Comment
    2. winston smith

      “Obama and his gang of unofficial Muslim/far leftist Jihadi apologists..”
      I thought the US supported Israel. Have I missed something?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        The bond between Israel and the US is natural, deep and “iron-clad”. But President Obama and his not so-secret secret Muslim advisers/agitators from Chicago are not the USA. The USA and the Free World will survive them.

        Reply to Comment
        • kate

          Obama has secret Muslim advisers? Wow straight from the Orly Taitz school of liberal thought, must be gettin’ it out of your system now, eh

          see ya tomorrow ‘kay

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Kate, I see that you have still not progressed beyond your usual recycled ad hominem one-liners. Truly, I have patience nor tolerance for your ilk. Here is what you need to do: try making argument(s) that is/are (a) coherent and (b) responsive. Then you might earn my time. This is a challenge. I know it is difficult for you, but you can do it if you really try. Thus, accept the challenge or buzz off for good, m’kay?

            Reply to Comment
          • kate

            I’ve been quite with YOUR ilk since oh about 2008 however is Rahm Emmanuel one of Obama’s secret ‘Muslim” advisers from Chicago? He was Obama’s first WH chief of staff, as to ad hominem’s I’ll leave that one to you after all I have never run around calling people jihadi’s ect
            Now ante up some proof of what you’re selling here or once again is it that all you have is your opinion which as I’ve seen you seem to confuse with facts
            and buzz off for good? really? I do not think you have he authority at this site anyway to do say that

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Kate, your post contains 105-words with NO SINGLE argument, but rant. I will reward your effort though with a few points. (1) President Obama’s Muslim agitators/advisers: (a) Imam Mohammed Magid, (b) Mohamed Elibiari, (c) Rashad Hussain, (d) Arif Alikhan, (e) Salam al-Marayati (f) Eboo Patel, (g) Nonie Darwish, etc. (2) Named individuals have strong connection to radical organizations such as Sayyid Qutb, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, etc. (3) We know of how Obama brought his friend Mubarak down, facilitated the rise of the MB and what happened to Egypt thereafter. (4) while Obama is going bonkers over Israeli “settlements” that occupy LESS THAN 4% the WB, tens of thousands of innocent civilians are being slaughtered on a few kilometers away in Syria under his (advisers’) nose. What’s the logic of all that?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            You are not making any sense, Kate, and are now really entering the gutter. I won’t go there with you. Anytime you are serious about debate just (a) state your opinion and (b) the reasons. The rest, such as the kitchen-sink attitude you exhibited in your latest post, isn’t necessary and I have no time for that.

            Reply to Comment
          • kate

            quite frankly running up and down spouting Tea Party nonsense hardly requires debate on it’s factual basis

            Reply to Comment
          • steven hirsch

            Kate, sweetie, I can’t let that kind of unwarranted vitriol pass. I notice from your name that you’re a goy. OK, that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. You may be very nice personally. But please, Katie, stop with the hatred, ok? It’s not productive.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            “Bob Wisby”/Steven Hirsch”/”Winston Smith”/”Ruben Sturman”/”Adam Glasser”/et cetera/et cetera. Continue making a fool of yourself, “Bob”. You really have serious issues, (including online stalking), as I told you already on other threads.

            Reply to Comment
          • kate

            so having he name kate means I’m a goy? lol who knew and Steven like in St Steven means?????

            Reply to Comment
          • winston smith

            I’m not sure we can just dismiss Ginger’s suggestion out of hand like that. Obama does seem, if we are to believe what we read, to have been raised in an Islamic environment, where no doubt he was instilled with the Arab’s irrational hatred of Jews. It isn’t a great leap of anyone’s imagination to conclude that he is plotting to have Israel destroyed. Perhaps this thing with Russia will be his excuse.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Right, Bob Wisby, oh shh! I meant Winston Smith.

            Reply to Comment
        • Shlomo

          Secret muslim “advisers”
          Wow, Ginger babe now goes full FOX-insane.
          Shows all about his intellectual capacity.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Shlomo, all you wanted was to just take a bite? Ok, you have now bitten me on the leg and are satisfied with the pound of flesh you bit off. Now make substantive and responsive argument(s) – FOR ONCE on this site. The audience is waiting for you and the clock is ticking. Let’s hear your arguments.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shlomo

            Why should I argue with puppets like you? Get some life, dude. I never argue with hatefull racists, I fight them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            You can call names as much as you want, “shlomo” (it seems that name has a specific function, no?), but I won’t enter the gutter with you. One thing I can guarantee you though is this: I will smash you in any “fight” – based on (a) the facts and/or (b) the law or (c) within the ambits of a thought-experiment.

            Reply to Comment
    3. You left out Obama’s opt out quote:

      “The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is not subject to periodic policy differences. That’s a rock-solid commitment, and it’s one that I’ve upheld proudly throughout my tenure. I think the affection that Americans feel for Israel, the bond that our people feel and the bipartisan support that people have for Israel is not going to be affected.

      So it is not realistic nor is it my desire or expectation that the core commitments we have with Israel change during the remainder of my administration or the next administration.”

      The US is Israel’s big brother saying the chickens are coming home, but I’ll be there no matter what.

      “…one of the things my mom always used to tell me and I didn’t always observe, but as I get older I agree with — is if there’s something you know you have to do, even if it’s difficult or unpleasant, you might as well just go ahead and do it, because waiting isn’t going to help. When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation…”

      Clearly this is the strongest statement O has ever made, although quite consistent with his earlier positions. It sounds like the US is ready to provide significant help in the Jordan Valley, taking away that as an excuse, as much as can be. If the IDF signs onto this help as sufficient, then there is a silent rift between the Defense Minister and professional forces, which makes a forward decision more ideological than strategic (the IDF has already done this, apparently, over Bibi and Iran).

      So I conclude that Larry may well be more on track than my own despair over this process, and am quite glad of it. O is giving Bibi a clear choice while recognizing that the choice is internal to the Israeli polity, thus taking away the “undo interference” canard. Essentially, O is affirming is Jerusalem speech prior to private meeting with Bibi, which is why I think significant offers are in sight for Jordan Valley security.

      However, there will be many points where any true plan can be foiled, and I think almost all of Biib’s present coalition deep down would want that. A political economy of occupation feeding back into coalition politics might force Bibi do become as dramatic as Sharon. Can he really do that?

      Reply to Comment
    4. mike panzone

      in this interview Ehud Barak states that obama is doing, for the support of israel’s security and cooperation in intelligence, more than any president in his memory.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26xy6Gbb3XY

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Mike, Barak qualified his statements (later on in the video. Additionally he made the statements during election time when the US-admin heavily lobbied Israeli officials to talk positively of the admin). But I see your point and generally agree. However, of what use are all these military gadgets if Israel is morally delegitimized at the same time? I was eating when I read the Bloomberg interview and just lost my appetite. I still don’t understand the logic of it all – given that those vitriolic comments were totally unnecessary/uncalled for.

        Reply to Comment
        • mike panzone

          nice try, ginger
          the video speaks for itself. it is proof of how ridiculous the accusation is that obama is anti-israel

          Reply to Comment
          • reuben sturman

            Mike, why is it so hard for you to believe that Obama hates the Jewish people? If you take the time to educate yourself, you’ll find that everyone, everywhere, through the course of recorded history, has hated the Jewish people. Why should Obama be any different?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            “Bob Wisby” alias “Reuben Sturman”, on the other thread you were exposed and soundly defeated in arguments based on facts and logic. That has apparently caused you to relapse to your pre-existing multiple personality disorder and led to your recent aggravated online stalking. Go and take your meds, sicko!

            Reply to Comment
    5. Ginger Eis

      TO THE ADMINISTRATION OF +972mag.com

      SUGGESTION: Require posters/commenters here to register FIRST before posting/commenting.

      REASON: There is at least ONE individual here posting under multiple/different names and as multiple/different individuals (with the goal of disrupting substantive discussions). I will not name names (though I have given a hint before), but if you run a check, you would come to the same conclusion.

      Reply to Comment
      • bob wisby

        What are you talking about Ginger? You know where I stand. We argue, true, but there’s not need to try having my voice silenced. This isn’t Soviet Russia.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          The only prudent thing you can do now is this: support my suggestion to the administration of this site to ‘require posters/commenters to REGISTER first before commenting/posting’. Under that regime you can still debate/comment. The goal is to stop you from using multiple identities to, inter alia, disrupt good debates and exchange of ideas and from stalking other online on this site). Nothing more. nothing less – “Bob Wisby” alias “Winston Smith” alias “Reuben Sturman” alias “Steven Hirsch” alias “Adam Glasser” alias etc.[btw. I noticed that one of your inapproperate comments has been deleted on the other thread. Just saying….]

          Reply to Comment
      • kate

        OMG pot meet kettle – let’s lay it out-shira

        the difference between you and me- I don’t have to hide my opinions-because there is nothing to hide no matter where I post

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Kate, pls. halt the imbecilic one-liners! This is serious. The best thing you can do now is to support my call to the administration to have folks register before they can comment. Why you simply just don’t do that and instead dig in on your usual nastiness, is beyond me.

          Reply to Comment
          • kate

            oh I have no problem with registering here none at all

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Excellent, Kate. At least we agree on something. I hope that gives us the chance to begin anew. But I will tell you this: we definitely are not going to agree on most of the issues, but at least we can have friendly GOOD discussions. The only time the discussion won’t be friendly is if you (or anyone else) argue for targeting the businesses of ordinary Jews in Israel for BDS/destruction in order to achieve political goal(s)/bring about the economic demise of Israel. We will still have a discussions on that subject, but I can assure you now that such a discussion will be a venomous one (as was the case with Rehmat, Danny, Philos, Josef, etc.). Endangering the personal safety of any one because she/he is a Jew and Israel’s existence is for me ‘Casus belli’. And I have no apologies for that.

            Reply to Comment
          • danni ashe

            Listen to yourself, Ginger:
            “But I will tell you this”
            “but I can assure you now”
            Where did you acquire such a charming and persuasive tone? From which great heights of human understanding and accomplishment do you address us mere mortals? You lay out terms as though we were your slaves. I know it’s not personal; you do it to everyone. Are you just pretending to be such a boor?

            Reply to Comment
          • danni ashe

            You have surpassed yourself, Ginger, with a crystal clear demonstration of a blind-spot in action. You bookend your message to kate with two nasty comments while admonishing her to be civil. The message itself is a condescending and paternalistic hymn to self-congratulation. Readers who follow English fluently will unanimously conclude you are nasty, condescending and smug. This is not serious, Ginger, this is hilarious.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            “Danni Ashe” alias Bob Wisby” alias “Winston Smith” alias “Reuben Sturman” alias “Steven Hirsch” alias “Adam Glasser” alias etc., if you are wise, you would seriously be asking yourself how I am in the position to know of all the multiple identities you are you using on this site! But your mind is compromised, out of control and incapable of critical reflection. ‘nuff said.

            Reply to Comment
          • danni ashe

            Perhaps you are just incredibly intelligent, Ginger. You certainly come across as someone with a larger than average head. Your self admiration seems to have no limits. You must be an incredibly exciting person. You are probably only working in McDonald’s as part of your undercover investigation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            I am sure the soft, silent voice in you has been sounding alarm in your head and warning you to change course, but you doubt that voice and delude yourself, for it is said: “those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”, Mr. “Danni Ashe” alias Bob Wisby” alias “Winston Smith” alias “Reuben Sturman” alias “Steven Hirsch” alias “Adam Glasser” alias etc.

            Reply to Comment
          • danny ashe

            Are you threatening to destroy me, now, Ginger? Is that permitted in +972’s rules for posting?

            Reply to Comment
          • danni ashe

            Lawyers are said to possess slightly more integrity than politician, and slightly less than prostitutes.”

            Which wag was it that said that?
            The clock’s ticking.

            Reply to Comment
    6. danni ashe

      I agree. It’s time to shut down the haters!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Detlef David Kauschke

      Dear Larry and other 972mag people, from all I read here the last days, I’m totally convinced that the only person here with multiple identities is Ginger Eis, who posts under different names here only to speak to himself and destroy the comment function of this site.
      So please take some action to stop this comment hooliganism, otherwise this hasbara people will have what they want.
      just my 2¢

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Mr. “Detlef David Kauscke” alias “Bob Wisby” alias “Danni Ashe” alias “Winston Smith” alias “Reuben Sturman” alias “Steven Hirsch” alias “Adam Glasser” alias “John Holmes”, alias “Pat Kittle”, alias “Ivan Boesky”, etc. It is not difficult at all to figure out who you are, from which country you post, your IP-address, etc., but the administration of +972mag.com seems woefully incompetent! If they have your data and know how to read data, the logic of time and space will at the very least rule out your silly claim.

        In a few minutes you are going to post under more new identities to attack me. Time will tell.

        Reply to Comment
    8. danni ashe

      Money will always find a way to defend itself. It’s first line of defense is to have created a set of laws, so designed that when it hides behind them, money becomes invisible. The second line is to create a class of people called lawyers, people who are prepared to sell their souls in exchange for some baubles thrown from the table of their employer.

      Reply to Comment
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