Obama trumps Bush, reverts to pre-2004 US policy
…settlement on 1967 borders-the question remains-Is the reversion historical or rhetorical?
MIDDLE EAST BY DR.JAVID IQBAL
Obama has spoken, trumped Bush in reverting to pre-2004 US policy of Middle East settlement based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed swaps. The question however remains-is the reversion, historical or rhetorical? The turn of events has left Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu angry, his public show of playing it down withstanding. Obama's reversion has met with series of protest in Israel. While rejecting it, Netanyahu evaded calling it as a major crisis in relations, stressing that it has been blown out of proportion, "The reports of a disagreement have been blown way out of proportion," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by a spokesman, as Obama prepared to address the annual assembly in Washington of the pro-Israel lobby organization AIPAC. He admitted though that there are differences "It's true we have some differences of opinion, but these are among friends," the spokesman quoted him as saying.
Observers, who have watched Middle Eastern scene for long, among them the famed columnist, Gwynne Dyer say Obama did not say anything new. “It was a return to what was the long-standing American position until former US president George W. Bush changed it in 2004,” comments Dyer. The West Bank has been occupied by the Israeli army since the 1967 war. The problem is one of settlements-Jewish settlements in West Bank, which adds up to Jewish population being 20% of the total West Bank population. These settlements control one third of the land. In 2004 Bush said that settlements could stay. That diluted the concept of a separate Palestinian state, living alongside Israel. With Obama’s statement the US policy is back to where it stood before Bush. In the pre-2004 policy, as Gwynne Dyer comments in his column “some settlements might be allowed to stay, but only if the Palestinian state were compensated with land of equivalent value by Israel. (That's what the "mutually agreed swaps" referred to.) Moreover, the "1967 lines" mean that the United States will not back Israel's insistence that its army remains in the Jordan valley, along the border between the promised Palestinian state and Jordan.”
Obama’s speech is taken as more rhetorical than historical, as he is in no position to push Netanyahu beyond a point. In fact Netanyahu is in no position to take, what is proposed. The simple reason being-his coalition government would collapse. Another reason-Obama risks alienating Israel's strongest supporters as he seeks re-election in 2012. That seems to be the reason for refraining from presenting a formal U.S. peace plan, though he laid his clearest markers yet on the compromises he believes Israel and the Palestinians must make to resolve a conflict that has long been seen as source of Middle East tension. Yet another reason that observers put forth is no real change in America, since Obama’s much publicized Cairo speech, two years back, promising a new relationship with the Muslim world, However, Middle East has changed with what is called-democratic revolution of the "Arab spring". Obama’s speech lasted for 40 minutes, though there was verbal support for democratic change, albeit within the ambit of American interests. Translated, it implies that change is acceptable, as long as it does not hurt American interests. Hence, Obama is either not inclined or is unable to work out a new American approach to Muslim world-limiting his approach to rhetoric, without any evidence of historic change!
Following Obama’s pronouncement of back to pre-2004 policy, Israeli officials were taken aback and an aide was asked if Netanyahu had been forewarned, said: "No comment." However other sources revealed that Netanyahu was pre-informed of Presidential pronouncement-over 24 hours ahead of Obama’s speech. Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren confirmed that Netanyahu was informed in advance. He did not call it a crisis however. "We do not feel that there is a crisis. There are differences.” This the ambassador said while answering a query of Israel’s army radio. Though Netanyahu tried to get the president to change his mind and his text, it was a futile try. When President did say what he proposed to, Netanyahu about to board the plane to Washington issued a strong statement rejecting the suggestion of 1967 borders forming the basis of settlement. His spokesman stated “Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of US commitments made to Israel in 2004....Among other things, those commitments relate to Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines, which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines,” [Judea and Samaria-West Bank named in old testament].
Later Netanyahu went on a damage containing exercise, playing down any anger towards the President. He however bluntly rejected Obama's vision of the boundaries of a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, after his talks at the White House with President Obama. As reported he told Obama his endorsement of the Palestinian demand to go back to Israel's 1967 frontiers means a big land concessions, was unrealistic and would leave Israel "indefensible". In related developments, a right-wing group called for an anti-Obama protest at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, while a source close to the prime minister was quoted as saying in the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom, "The Americans ambushed us.” Netanyahu’s Israeli opposition however says "An American president that supports the two-state vision is representing Israeli interests and is not anti-Israel," main opposition leader Tzipi Livni was quoted as saying. He added "If there is a consensus in Israel, it's that relations with the U.S. are essential to Israel, and a prime minister who harms the relationship with the U.S. over something insubstantial is harming Israel's security and deterrence.” Parts of Israeli media also asked if Netanyahu himself stoked an air of crisis. There is much speculation, whether Netanyahu would use his slated interaction with American Congress to attack Obama's peace outline, or try to soothe their strained relations.
On the Palestinian side, there have been developments, having a bearing on the situation- Al-Fatah/Hamas recent tie-up was good news for all who support Palestinian resistance; however the just concluded Cairo talks remained inconclusive, dampening the lifted spirits. The agreement reached earlier spelt out bringing in a unity government of independent technocrats, who have no leanings to either side. The choice of the next prime minister to lead the unity government could be crucial for winning Western support for the reconciliation deal signed earlier this month in Cairo. It is widely reported that the west could be mollified with, were Salam Fayyad, who heads the West Bank government. There are media reports indicating that each side would submit names of four candidates for each post, including that of the prime minister, and these names would be assessed for suitability at next meeting 10 days, hence. One of the candidates out of those short listed will be chosen at the next meeting in Cairo. Fatah though, it is revealed by the sources, is pushing to get Fayyad accepted. Hamas may relent, were it allowed to join Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization. Hamas discovered that for acceptability, it would have to tie-up with Al-Fatah. Al-Fatah too realized that for wider public support, they would need Hamas. Thus they covered each others lacunas.
The unity that has come about is fragile. If the twosomes manage to stick together through thick and thin, they would prove the skeptics wrong. In the process, they might bring in the needed relief to their people. It would remain the fervent hope and prayers of all those support Palestinian struggle for a homeland that the unity lasts. And the homeland is one, where they exercise sovereignty, instead of mere suzerainty, with Israel breathing over the neck!
Yaar Zinda Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Dr.Javid Iqbal, Columnist, is Academic (V.Principal) Controller & Coordinator and HOD-Operation Theater Technology, Tahira Khanam's Paramedical Sciences Institute Lawaypora-Srinagar. Feedback on Iqbal.email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OP-ED
Deputations, Individuals Meet CM At ‘Awami Mulakat’
Srinagar, May 25: Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah today said the Government had already launched numerous development schemes across the State with focused attention on the equitable and holistic development More
- Srinagar City
Police pacifies protesters, facilitates meeting with R&B Babus
SYED IMRAN ALI HAMDANI
Srinagar, May 25: The traders of Shahr-e-Khaas on Wednesday staged protest demonstrations against the bad road conditions in the old City. The traders from Nawakadal, Gratbal, Kawadara, Rajouri Kadal More
OMAR ASKS MEDIA FRATERNITY
Jammu, May 25: Asking media to play a constructive and balanced role in the society, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah today said that the media should exercise its freedom of expression with greater sense More
Srinagar: Forest Protection Force is organizing 14 one day team building workshop at Ganderbal, Budgam, Srinagar, Kupwara, Pulwama, Islamabad (Anantnag), Batote, Doda, Udhampur, Rajouri, Jammu and Kathua More
No. 1 in provision coverage ratio: Mushtaq
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, May 25: Chairman, J&K Bank, Mushtaq Ahmad today said that JK Bank was second largest employer in the state. “By March end, 2012 we will increase our braches from 548 to 600.” Speaking More
2-DAY KASHMIR CONFERENCE ENDS
NISAR A THOKAR
Muzaffarabad, May 25: The 2-day International Kashmir Conference, hosted by the University of PaK, concluded here last night with all delegates unanimously agreeing upon that peace would continue to elude More