Tuesday, March 22, 2011

David Remnick: Time For Obama To Present A Peace Plan In Jerusalem

David Remnick comments in The New Yorker that those who expected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahyu to do a version of Nixon in China and end the occupation of the Palestinian territories were mistaken. Remnick points out another mistake: President Obama’s not following his trip to Cairo in 2009 with a trip to Jerusalem. Obama can rectify this  by going there and presenting a peace plan whose outlines have been established but never implemented. Continued drift, as always in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will lead to another conflagration. From “A Man, A Plan”:

…Smug and lacking in diplomatic creativity, Netanyahu has alienated and undermined the forces of progressivism in the West Bank and is, step by ugly step, deepening Israel’s isolation.

…Inevitably, the parameters of a two-state solution would be like those established at Taba, in 2001, and by Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, in 2008...

…Obama’s views are not mysterious. His political home is Hyde Park, on the South Side of Chicago, where he came to know liberal Zionists and Palestinian academics, and to understand both the necessity of a Jewish state after the Second World War and the tragedy and the depths of Palestinian suffering.

…A visit to Israel, coupled with the presentation of a peace plan, would also help structure international support and clarify American interests. The Palestinian question is not an internal matter for Israel; it is an international matter.

The importance of an Obama plan is not that Netanyahu accept it right away; the Palestinian leadership, which is weak and suffers from its own issues of legitimacy, might not embrace it immediately, either, particularly the limits on refugees. Rather, it is important as a way for the United States to assert that it stands not with the supporters of Greater Israel but with what the writer Bernard Avishai calls “Global Israel,” the constituencies that accept the moral necessity of a Palestinian state and understand the dire cost of Israeli isolation. Even as Obama continues to stress his commitment to Israeli security, he has to emphasize the truth that, without serious progress toward an agreement, matters will likely deteriorate, perhaps to the point, yet again, of violence.

...If America is to be a useful friend, it owes clarity to Israel, no less than Israel and the world owe justice—and a nation—to the Palestinian people.

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