Former U.S. ambassador to Martin Indyk is sadly representative of the cult of peace processors. His penchant for moral relativism (with the mandatory trumped-up criticism of Israel) and selective memory has in the Obama administration been coupled with cheering the White House’s more hostile stance toward the Jewish state. We might suspect the latter has something to do with ambitions to replace George Mitchell. His latest missive in the Financial Times personifies the intellectual cul-de-sac into which the non-peace. non-process has led us.
As a preliminary matter, he does not seem to understand the rules at the U.N. He declares: “The UN General Assembly is in September likely to pass a resolution recognising a Palestinian state. That will ensure its speedy conversion into a Security Council resolution to declare Israel the occupying power of a UN member state.” This is nonsense. An experienced Middle East hand points out, “The UN General Assemply CANNOT recognize and admit a Palestinian state, as long as we veto in the UN Security Council. . . It just cannot happen. The worst we will see is a hortatory UN General Assembly resolution, and it can be bad and make trouble-- but cannot do what he says it can, i.e., lead to a UN Security Council resolution calling Israel the occupying power of an independent state.”
But that’s just the beginning of the poppycock. Indyk writes:
Mr Obama’s [Arab Spring] speech provides the starting point. He should take the principles he enunciated on borders and security and convert them into terms of reference for a new negotiation.
Another negotiation is all it takes? (Proverbial smack to the forehead.) Who knew it could be so easy?
He proclaims, “Mr Obama should announce during the summer that he is inviting them to resume the negotiations on the basis of these terms of reference with a timeline for an agreement by the September 2012 UNGA meeting.” Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies e-mails me, “Indyk apparently thinks that Obama can slap together a serious diplomatic summit in a few weeks and then hammer out an agreement (which has eluded us for a century) before September. For those counting, that’s three months from now.”
Those in the reality-based community also have a problem with Indyk’s pronouncement that “Issuing these invitations will need to trigger a clear message from the European Union and Russia to Mr. Abbas that if he does not accept, they will oppose the General Assembly resolution recognizing Palestine (Mr Abbas will not want to go ahead with that vote if the other main powers do not back him).” But will it? It seems that the Europeans, not to mention the Russians, believe only U.N. recognition can spur “real” talks on issues such as final borders. And what about Hamas in this equation? Are we to invite that half of the unity government also, or just pretend there is no relationship between the terrorist group and Abbas and, therefore, no need to demand that Hamas agree to the Quartet pre-conditions before beginning talks?
Next on his list of wishes is this: “The Arab League will need to be mobilised to support a Palestinian decision to resume talks.” How do we do this and why in the world would the Arab League support talks rather than a trip to the U,N,? (Schanzer dubs this “a long throw from third.”)
Then Indyk suggests that Obama go to Israel and tell the Israelis that, sure, he “cares so much about the future of their children that he is determined to help the Jewish state achieve a secure peace.” Thunk. Obama’s not going to Israel for obvious reasons — he’d be booed or jeered. And there is a reason he would: Only a tiny percentage of Israelis think he’s in their corner.
Indyk then repeats the inanity that Obama labored under: “If Hamas opposes resuming talks because the terms of reference provide for land swaps and recognition of Israel’s right to exist as the Jewish homeland, it will have isolated itself and given Mr Abbas reason to abrogate the unity agreement.” But what if Abbas doesn’t want to abrogate the agreement Israel is supposed to negotiate with a unity government in which both halves don’t agree to the Quartet conditions?
His additional suggestion that the “Turkish prime minister, as Muslim Brotherhood compatriot, might be utilised to good effect” is the cherry on the fantasy sundae.
To paraphrase the old economists’ joke, Indyk demands that we “assume a peace partner.” Israel doesn't have one, or we would not all be in this fix now. Israel faces a Palestinian Authority that has chosen unilateralism over bilateral negotiations and a deal with Hamas over the difficult business of making the concessions (e.g. the right of return) that are essential for a deal. This, alas, is what passes for “smart” diplomacy these days.
I have a better suggestion: Assume a different president.