It’s refreshing in its own way to see Barack Obama embracing American imperialism. Usually, Obama’s allies on the Left argue that the US has no business telling other countries how to manage their own affairs, and usually object to imposing our hegemony and Pax Americana on the rest of the world. Dictating peace terms to Israel is apparently an exception:
“Everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal,” said one of the senior officials, citing the agreement that was nearly reached at Camp David in 2000 and in subsequent negotiations. He said that an American plan, if launched, would build upon past progress on such issues as borders, the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. The second senior official said that “90 percent of the map would look the same” as what has been agreed in previous bargaining.
The American peace plan would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran, which is Israel’s top priority, explained the second senior official. He described the issues as two halves of a single strategic problem: “We want to get the debate away from settlements and East Jerusalem and take it to a 30,000-feet level that can involve Jordan, Syria and other countries in the region,” as well as the Israelis and Palestinians.
“Incrementalism hasn’t worked,” continued the second official, explaining that the United States cannot allow the Palestinian problem to keep festering — providing fodder for Iran and other extremists. “As a global power with global responsibilities, we have to do something.” He said the plan would “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security and the requirements of Palestinian sovereignty in a way that makes sense.” …
A political battle royal is likely to begin soon, with Israeli officials and their supporters in the United States protesting what they fear would be an American attempt to impose a settlement and arguing to focus instead on Iran. The White House rejoinder is expressed this way by one of the senior officials: “It’s not either Iran or the Middle East peace process. You have to do both.”
Says who? Iran isn’t building a nuclear weapon to benefit the Palestinians. They’re doing it to control the region, and/or start a war that fulfills their messianic visions. Iran having nukes has nothing to do with the border issues of the West Bank or the status of Jerusalem. Linking the two ignores the threat that a nuclear Iran poses to the US and the global supply of oil, and not just Israel.
Obama is certainly welcome to propose a comprehensive peace plan. He will have plenty of Oval Office company in that effort. We have seen a number of such plans over the last 40 years, all of which ignore a central conflict: both the Palestinians and Israelis want Israel. Until Palestinians give up the idea of armed conflict to seize the land on which Israel now sits, no peace plan created will resolve the standoff.
The tone of this effort, as expressed by David Ignatius, sounds different from previous administrations. In fact, the final quote sounds perilously close to an ultimatum, at least in terms of our efforts to keep Iran from going nuclear. What happens when Israel refuses to accept the Palestinian “right of return,” and scotches the deal? Perhaps this interview with key Obama foreign-policy adviser Samantha Power from a few years back will give us a clue: