This is just a plan, a plan to repeat the Oslo policies of the Clinton administration. The U.S. is now reacting to events. So this plan will change as it encounters, and let's hope it encounters, resistance. But this gives us a clear understanding of what the U.S. wants.
Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel's security. And we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats.
For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves, whose interests are only set back by acts of terror.
To be a genuine party to peace, the quartet has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.
This is the key demands, and it is worth repeating what they mean. The resistance (which is bigger than Hamas) must recognize "Israel's right" to deny Palestinians they basic civil and human rights. This is what it meant by "Israel's right to exist". Hamas is asked to sign off, among many things, the right of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to fight for equal rights. And of course it must sign off the right of return of the refugees. Hamas must sign off the right to resist, and it must agree to be bound by past agreements (Oslo) that have been completely ignored by Israel. Although Israel doubled the numbers of settlers during Oslo, Hamas must accept Israel's right to control Area C, for example, as defined in the Oslo protocols. These demands are not part of a grand peace bargain with Israel. They are only pre-condition for being a partner to negotiations. Only after Palestinians accept that, as General Yaalon said, they are "a defeated people," will the negotiations begin. Then, the Palestinians' human rights, right to live, right to drink fresh water, the right to travel freely, the territorial rights, the right to self-determination, etc. all these rights, which are not asserted and are not pre-conditions, will be negotiated, in a process in which Israel holds all the cards and Palestinians none. That is Obama's recipe for a just peace.
Going forward, the outline for a durable cease-fire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.
Obama is committing to a sanctions regime against Hamas that bears some similarity to the sanctions regime against Iraq. To prevent Hamas from undermining Israel's monopoly over military force, all the economy of the strip would have to be held hostage, all imports scrutinized, and everything that might be useful militarily stopped. That is a guarantee of eternal poverty and no reconstruction. The plan as it is shaping is a repeat of the Iraqi scenario. First a devastating blow to the civilian infrastructure, then a regime of control that would keep that infrastructure in a state of permanent collapse. Plus, the daily operation of this regime of control will have to be managed by Israel, who will call ther shots on every economic decision in Gaza.
Yesterday I spoke to President Mubarak and expressed my appreciation for the important role that Egypt played in achieving a cease-fire. And we look forward to Egypt's continued leadership and partnership in laying a foundation for a broader peace through a commitment to end smuggling from within its borders.
U.S. Middle East policy will continue to rely on despised collaborator regimes and guarantee their "leadership."
Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians.
Israel must have complete and undisturbed monopoly of violence. Palestinians will have "hope."
OBAMA: I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza. Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care, and who've faced suffocating poverty for far too long.
Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.
There will be humanitarian aid. Perhaps even more that Israel alone would have wanted. That would be the new toughness with regards to Israel. But as a condition to receiving this aid, Palestinians must accept to be ruled by the corrupt Vichy government of the PA. For those who accept the rules of the game, corruption, service to Israel, and taking orders from Washington, the Obama administration will create business opportunities and some of them might even get rich.
Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them. The United States will fully support an international donor's conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority.
The days of Oslo should return. No to national demands. Yes to business opportunities for collaborators. Enough opportunities should be given to a small group of cronies to create an elite that will rule the Palestinian Bantustans for Israel.
Lasting peace requires more than a long cease-fire, and that's why I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.
A "Palestinian state" (i.e. a bantustan) is what Olmert and Livni and Barak want. Natanyahu says he doesn't, but he doesn't really care. His constituents do. If this plan moves toward implementation, the major conflict will again be between the interests of the Israelis who vote Likud and to the right of Likud, Israelis who are at the margins of Israel's global economy, and the Palestinian collaborators' economic elite centered on the PA. The competition will be over who gets the stingy economic benefits from the repression of Palestinians. The Oslo era ended because the newly formed Palestinian elite lost. That was a very likely outcome, given that their competitors vote in Israeli elections and they don't. It is doubtful whetherthat a much weakened PA, even with the best of American support, can do much better.
Senator Mitchell will carry forward this commitment, as well as the effort to help Israel reach a broader peace with the Arab world that recognizes its rightful place in the community of nations.
I should add that the Arab peace initiative contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative's promise by supporting the Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.
The U.S. will take from Arab initiatives those elements they like, such as normalizing relations with Israel, and negotiate away what they dislike, such as a just solution to the refugees.
Jordan's constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel provide a model for these efforts. And going forward, we must make it clear to all countries in the region that external support for terrorist organizations must stop. (Washington Post)It is important to mention every collaborator in the credits.
January 24, 2009
This is the clearest outline of Obama's Middle East vision, expressed in a speech at a State Department event: Comments interspersed.