U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell was in Israel today. He met one-on-one for two-and-a half hours Prime Minister Netanyahu.
According to this report, Mitchell failed to obtain any agreement from Israel regarding the total freeze on settlements President Obama has demanded. In fact, all Mitchell obtained was a statement by Israeli officials that the two sides are “getting close” to “finding that common ground to enable progress.” It doesn’t get more vanilla than that.
The prevailing view now seems to be that if there is going to be any “progress” on the settlement issue, it will come only after Arab states commit to “gestures” of normalization of their relations with Israel. The U.S. has made no progress on settlements, this theory holds, because Mitchell has been unable to induce Arab states to make such gestures (e.g., Israeli overfly rights, the exchange of economic interest sections, and various cultural and educational exchanges).
In short, the U.S. is now a supplicant in the Middle East, its special envoy reduced to begging Arab states to make a gesture, any gesture, so that he can then beg Israel not to build apartments.
But then, the U.S. has become a supplicant throughout the world, begging European countries for a few troops or spare tanks for Afghanistan, attempting to prevail on the Iranian regime to open talks in which we beg the mullahs not to pursue nuclear weapons, imploring India to make concessions on climate change, and so forth.
In this context, Israel can be heartened by the fact that, having stood up to Obama, it is no longer the one country to which he presently tries to dictate.
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