The Middle East is usually full of deception, duplicity, and backstabbing in its political both intra-country and inter-country. There is often a huge gap between actions and words. At times, it appears that nobody says what they mean and nobody means what they say. So, it comes as little surprise that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should go through an intermediary, the United States, and that there is deceit galore, at levels beyond anything I can remember. The Palestinian Authority in their dealings with the United States perpetrates the first deceit, and then there is the deceit in the approach and manipulation being applied by the United States upon Israel. It was the evidence of the United States attempt to circumvent Prime Minister Netanyahu that cleared the fog revealing the Palestinian manipulations bringing a clarity in my perceptions.
First, let us deal with the Palestinian ploys aimed at playing the United States. President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad and others in the Palestinian Authority have realized exactly how desperate President Obama and his Administration are to find anything they can show as progress in any form in any area to crow about and improve their image at home. The PA also realizes that Prime Minister Netanyahu has a solid and virtually unshakably strong coalition allowing him to negotiate from a position of strength and not need to compromise in direct talks. For this reason Abbas and all will not agree, no matter what the bribe, to rejoin direct negotiations. The only exception is if they can get the United States to guarantee a favorably inclined Israel. This has brought about a change in the Palestinian tactics. Now, instead of making initial demands before direct negotiations with Israel only to be followed by more extravagant demands during direct talks until Israel finally refuses a demand, then walking out in a huff, all the demands, no matter how guaranteed repulsive to Israel, are being forced upon the United States. First thing the Palestinians have figured is that the Americans are more desperate for a deal and in an even weaker negotiating position than is Israel. Since the United States is more likely to agree to almost anything demanded by the Palestinian side and then apply force on Israel, why not simply have the United States do the Palestinian negotiating for them. They have rightly figured the United States can apply the most pressure even before the real face-to-face negotiations commence. This is not a huge departure than the regular Palestinian ploy, but this time they are carrying their pressuring the United States much farther than before and reaping the full benefit of an American Administration that has proven hostile to Israel.
Now let us cover the United States deceitful manipulations of Israel. It is no secret that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton both have a visceral hate of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Almost nothing would make them happier than to replace him with Tzipi Livni, a far more reasonable in their eyes, meaning more pliable and less dogmatic in protecting Israel and keeping Jerusalem and any of the predominately Jewish areas that have formed in the Judean and Samarian Hills of Eastern Israel. So, in order to conceivably threaten the third largest block of the Netanyahu coalition, the Obama Administration has been holding talks with the head of the Labor Party and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. They have made special generous offers of weapon systems, the acquisition of such he can claim credit for and potentially pull some support away from Netanyahu and Likud in the coalition. Should Ehud Barak and Labor manage to pull a couple of the lesser parties to back them in a “lack of confidence vote”, then it might be possible to force new elections. Secretary of State Clinton, assuredly on instructions from the White House, has been approaching Tzipi Livni to sound out and get her support for plans that will meet the enhanced set of demands from the Palestinian Authority. This is being orchestrated in order to have support from the Obama Administration should new elections actually come. Should there be new elections, we can expect many reports from new outlets such as Haaretz and other liberal leaning sources on how Tzipi Livni has such wonderful relations with the American Administration and how Bibi Netanyahu is a threat to Israel’s most precious relationship and ally. This would be the exact same scenario as the undermining of Prime Minister Netanyahu during President Bill Clinton’s Presidency. (One has to wonder if Democrat operatives such as Bob Schrum, James Carville will be sent to campaign for Livni.) By all appearances, the Obama Administration has given up negotiating with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the current Israeli leader, and, for all intents and purposes, are dealing with Tzipi Livni, the person they hope and maybe even plan to be Prime Minister of Israel.
It is almost needless to say, with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority pushing their deceitful negotiations with the Obama Administration to include concession they know the current Israeli Government would never accept, and the Obama Administration negotiating in ways that lay bare their wish and possible manipulation to break the Netanyahu coalition in order to replace him with the “more agreeable” (read pliant) Tzipi Livni at the helm, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are going nowhere fast. At some point all these deceits, manipulations, ploys, and playing people has to reach critical mass; and then who knows what events will follow and where these events will lead. Something tells me that this tangled web being spun will challenge the proverbial Gordian Knot when the time comes to untie this mess. I just pray it all does not explode violently as any new Middle East War will in no way resemble the previous limited engagements, this time will be for the whole ball of wax.
Beyond the Cusp