This week President Abbas made a disastrous application for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian Statehood at the United Nations. This bid, more than anything, was a result of Barack Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy, but not according to Bob Beckel. Beckel on Friday’s “The Five” suggested that Obama’s policies had nothing to do with the UN disaster, nothing to do with the fact that Abbas refuses to negotiate, and nothing to do with Palestinians’s refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. It’s all the fault of the settlements, the settlements, the settlements.
Honestly, I can’t remember if he repeated the words “the settlements” three or four times but Beckel certainly made his point. He also proved that he is either too partisan to admit the truth, or too lazy to research recent history, but either way he is wrong.
Allow me to explain the facts and for brevity’s sake I will start with the Obama Administration.
While the Palestinians have never accepted Israeli settlements, secession of all settlement building has never been a precondition to talks. Israel had long ago agreed not to build new communities in Judea and Samaria but would continue to add housing units to existing communities.
During the government of PM Ehud Barak, there were direct talks and construction continued in existing communities.
It was the Obama administration’s naiveté that made the settlements an issue. Hillary Clinton first demanded the freeze in 2009 and was quickly backed up by Obama. What the President and his advisers perceived as a minor concession (a settlement freeze including no new housing units in existing communities) was for Israel a grave sacrifice. From their point of view Obama was telling adult Israelis that their children could no longer live near their parents. He was also saying that a policy not accepted in the United States (allowing people of a certain faith to live anywhere they want) was OK as long as it appeased the Arab world.
It is interesting that the man who pushed for Muslims to build a mosque on Ground Zero, and for illegal immigrants to live in Arizona, believes that Jews should be banned from living on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
Making the settlement a cornerstone of the new administration’s Middle East policy was a major naivete-driven error by the Obama administration. It was further compounded by their inclusion of Jerusalem in the mix and their constant public berating of the Jewish State. This turned the Israeli population against Obama, especially the Israeli left who would be more inclined to support a settlement freeze demand. A May 2011 Smith Poll conducted for the Jerusalem Post showed that only 12% of Israelis believe Obama is pro-Israel while 40% believe he is pro-Palestinian.
Obama’s demand for a freeze of natural community growth broke a US/Israel agreement made during the Bush administration.
Obama, through his Secretary of State Clinton, said there was never an agreement between Israel and the US about natural expansion of existing settlements. Elliot Abrams who negotiated the agreement for the United States says that the administration is lying.
Immediately the Palestinians seized upon the Obama-created issue. Seeing an opportunity to avoid talks, they used Obama’s demands to make a settlement freeze a precondition to further talks, even though there were negotiations and construction going on simultaneously before Obama became president.
In August 2009 Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a ten month settlement building freeze in Judea and Samaria. It was approved by the Knesset and implemented on November 25, 2009 and ran till September 25, 2010. Despite pressure from the United States, the Palestinians wasted the first nine months of the freeze and would not come to the negotiation table until September 2010, three weeks before the freeze ended, a fact lost on Mr. Beckel.
After the freeze ended, Abbas once again hid behind Obama’s naivete, another fact that Beckel forgets. Pressure was put on Jewish State to extend it indefinitely. No one questioned the Palestinian Authority’s refusal talk for the first nine months of a ten month freeze.
The US began to negotiate with Israel to extend the freeze and the two sides came close to a deal. Based on their experience with Obama and the deal negotiated by Elliot Abrams during the Bush Administration, Israel demanded that any proposal be presented in writing as any oral deal with the Obama administration was not worth the paper it was printed on.
The written offer never came and worse yet, the Secretary of State Clinton wasn’t negotiating in good faith. Instead, Ms.Clinton was playing bait and switch.
As Israel waited for a letter clarifying America’s guarantees in exchange for a proposed building ban for Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, a diplomatic source came forward saying that no such letter is on its way. Secretary Clinton misled Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and contrary to reports, the U.S. did not guarantee an end to the freeze, the source said.
The source, a senior diplomat with inside knowledge of Netanyahu’s recent meetings in Washington, said Clinton made commitments when talking to Netanyahu, but later slipped out of them by claiming that she had not been speaking on behalf of U.S. President Obama – who, she said in the end, did not give his approval.
Despite the Obama administration’s bait and switch, Netanyahu tried to give the Palestinian side an “out.” In early October 2010 he made a very simple offer to the PA. If you were to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, we will extend the freeze. As reported by Al Jazeera the answer was a resounding no:
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has offered to renew a partial settlement construction freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
He announced the offer on Monday, just three days after the Palestinians and Arab states gave the US a month to persuade Israel to renew a 10-month moratorium on settlement housing starts that expired on September 26.
Netanyahu’s proposal met with swift rejection from senior Palestinian officials.
“The whole world holds Netanyahu responsible for what is happening in the region, after he chose to push ahead with the settlement project at the expense of an advance in the peace process. Settlement freeze is a commitment Netanyahu should respect,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told Al Jazeera.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior official of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, described the settlement issue as “an aggression on Palestinian rights and land”.
“What Israel calls itself is an Israeli matter that does not concern us. The two issues are not related,” he told Al Jazeera in reference to Netanyahu’s condition that Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
Nabil Abu Rudainah, the spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said a return to peace talks required a freeze on settlement building by Israel.
“The issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do with the matter,” he told the Reuters news agency.
The Palestinian side still refuses to take that first step toward peace, recognizing the Jewish State of Israel. While Barack Obama was willing to destroy the prospects for negotiations by making the settlements an issue the way it never was before, he has avoided upsetting the Palestinians by demanding that they recognize the Jewish State of Israel. Obama tap danced around the issue as recently as his speech in front of the General Assembly last week. Those, Mr. Beckel are called facts.
It’s not just Bob Beckel, he is just the most annoying. The real story of a settlement freeze has been ignored by the mainstream media. Earlier this week Gretchen Carlson of “Fox and Friends” reported that the Administration was trying to get Israel to return to the table, despite the fact that Israel never left the table, the Palestinians did. Israel offered a ten month freeze to help the US out of a problem caused by our President’s naiveté, the Palestinians ignored the freeze until it was too late, an extension of the freeze was first sabotaged by Hilary Clinton’s bait and switch tactics and a refusal to put things in writing, then by PA President Abbas because he didn’t want to recognize Israel.
Whether Beckel is ignoring the truth because he desperately wants to turn around the progressive Obama’s fortunes, or because he is too lazy to investigate the truth, it doesn’t really matter.What matters is that there is a dearth of truth coming out of the main stream media, even on Fox News. I guess bias and or/laziness is bipartisan.