Monday, April 26, 2010

News Talk Online April 26, 2010 Should Obama Impose A Middle East Peace Treaty?

At a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging him to return to the peace table, Paltestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has an interesting suggestion to create peace in the Middle East: let Obama decide.

In politics, sometimes perception masks the reality. And it's clear that the PA president perceives the recent rift between the United States and Israel as an indication that Obama is turning his back on Israel. A wonderful opportunity to name the U.S. president arbiter. Then, he undoubtedly reasons, the Palestinians will get what they want.

He's not alone in that impression by the way. Many Jews, both in Israel and in the United States, are distrustful of Obama over the Middle East.

While one's initial reaction to this may be, "what right has the United States to impose anything on the Israelis and the Palestinians?" - Abbas' suggestion actually has some - perhaps unintended - merit.

If the Palestinians and the Israelis agree ahead of time that whatever Obama comes up with is binding, then both sides may be forced into boundaries that neither find particularly palatable - an agreement that they would otherwise reject.

Of course, this is all just wishful thinking. There's no way the Israelis would give up their rights to self-determination. Nor should they, really, be asked to. And of course, the proposal conveniently ignores one important thing. Abbas doesn't represent nor control all of the Palestinian territories. A more difficult task than getting Israel to sign on would be getting Hamas to agree.

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