This month marked a low point in the Obama administration’s attempts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Following the administration’s announcement on 7 December that it was ending efforts to secure a 90-day extension of Israel’s limited moratorium on settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced “Plan B” for resolving the conflict three days later. Instead of emphasizing direct talks between the parties, Washington will now attempt to mediate between them to develop a framework agreement around the core issues of borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. Sound familiar? It should. The Obama administration is following the same failed path of its three predecessors to achieve peace. In other words, there is no Plan B.
Clinton explained that the conflict “is a source of tension and an obstacle to prosperity and opportunity for all the people of the region” and “at odds also with the interests of the United States” (“Remarks at the Brookings Institution“). Why then is the administration adopting such a well-trodden and ineffective approach? Because contrary to its public statements, Washington’s policies reward Israeli intransigence and ensure that its occupation of the Palestinian territories continues indefinitely.
I’m not sure why this perspective is so rarely seen, given how obvious it is that the last twenty years of so-called peace processes have been so visibly water-treading exercises while ‘facts on the ground’ tap-dance their way to Israel’s ultimate goals for the territories. I know; too many clashing metaphors, but it’s my one vice.