Saturday, May 21

Obama's Speech and other Matters

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minis...Image via Wikipedia

The much anticipated speech of Obama has come and gone. It was delivered on Thursday 19th May 2011. A day after his speech was delivered, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the US and had a meeting with Obama which was rather cold and emphasized their differences in approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After having read Obama's speech in the press, it is obvious that nothing new was said. Obama attempted at saying the right things to both sides to prevent controversy. The reaction to returning to the pre-1967 borders was predictable in Netanyahu's reaction. He stated that that the pre-1967 borders are indefensible. However, Netanyahu did hint that he was prepared to make wide ranging concessions for peace. What this means in practice is anybody's guess.

The speech was delightfully vague and diplomatically correct and did not offer any solutions

While Obama is aware of Israel's security needs and emphasized US commitment to Israel, he is also aware that Hamas's agreement with Fatah adds an additional problem to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and has been responsible for numerous acts of terror against Israel's citizens over the years. One can understand Israel not being willing to negotiate with Hamas being in the picture while its attitude against Israel's existence remains uncompromising.

On the other hand Israel's occupation policy, which is basically colonization of Palestinian lands by the continuation of building new homes in occupied Palestinian lands is also a great obstacle to peace and this has been going on for many years even before Hamas signed an agreement  with the Fatah ruled Palestinian Authority. Israel's colonization policies on the ground are proof that Israel does not intend to ever relinquish territory to the Palestinians in any peace agreement irrespective of Hamas being with Fatah or not. It is just an added excuse on Israel's part to maintain the situation as it is by not showing any willingness to freeze settlements in the West Bank. Nothing that Netanyahu says will convince any reasonable person of the contrary. The proof is in the pudding. The more settlements built in the occupied territories, the less viable will the future Palestinian state be. It is not about Israel's security being compromised; it is more about Israel's colonization policy of keeping the Palestinians without a state for as long as possible.

If Israel ceased building on occupied Palestinian lands and encouraging Israeli settlement there then we could say that Israel has no Palestinian partner for peace. Is Israel a partner for peace while it carries on its settler policies in the occupied West Bank

The inclusion of Hamas in the negotiating picture must be viewed as an added obstacle, but Israel's indecisiveness and expansionist policies must also bear part of the blame. Obama's speech to AIPAC  on Sunday 22nd May 2011, somehow did clear some misunderstandings. This speech was clear and proved the US commitment to Israel's security. Obama also made it clear that there is not much time and that withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines must be made with adjustments and land swaps agreeable to all sides. This was one of the most pro Israel speeches ever made by Obama. 

As mentioned in a previous article, Hamas was seeking a new godfather as they could not rely on the Assad regime of Syria and the Ahmadinajad regime of Iran to support them anymore owing to the uprisings in the Arab world. Both regimes are involved in suppressing opposition groups in their countries and Hamas realized that their support base was weakening in these countries.

Israel is losing another opportunity because of its expansionist policies and lack of foresight. The old orders are falling making way for a new order which is steered largely by the Arab youth against their traditional oppressive rulers. The direction it will take is still unclear. One thing is clear - zero tolerance for dictatorships. It means that Israel must accommodate itself to a new situation and show its support for the Arab uprising and its willingness to end the occupation of the Palestinians. Failure to do this will result in further isolation and condemnation.

Obama stated in his speech that the US would not support a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State in September 2011. This can be viewed as a temporary respite for Israel. However it is just that and no more. The fact that Hamas has signed an agreement with Fatah is not as negative as it seems. Hamas will take a low key in the peace negotiations which will be left to the PA. This means that Gaza will also be included. If negotiations begin and show signs of progress, the siege on Gaza will also end.

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Jess G. said...

I think I that our president is doing a fantastic job trying to bring together Israel and Palestine. Although this seems impossible and difficult to achieve with the size and matter of this conflict, United States presidents have put a lot of time effort and money trying to bring about ways to create peace between Israel and Palestine.

t.allen said...

I think the possibility of peace would actually be possible if both Israel and Palestine admit guilt. Although I am not a zionist, I do believe that every nation of people do deserve to have a land of their own I do not believe that any land should have been taken by force.

In a sense I do believe that Obama is right for the call that the Israelis should return back to the 1967 borders. Any land that they acquired since then is illegaly obtained, and it makes them no better than the ones who stole the land FOR them.
7:22 PM

Christian Q. said...

As long as AIPAC still has control on our congress, and Presidents who support Israel keep a pro-israel look at things nothing will change in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel has no right to keep annexing more land than it was given. When it was a nation created by force and without agreement by the natives of the land. While Israel keep control of our congress it is much like a monopoly where a group of people control decisions on Israel and as long as AIPAC has a great influence on our Government it will be long till a resolution is created.

veronica said...

i believe there cant be any peace between this two countries israel and palestine because israel do not seem like they want to stop. Israel is already taking over palestine building homes in their territory why would they want to stop and be in peace with palestine. Israel has done so much damage to the palestinians and their place that i dont think this conflict would end up in peace...