Arabs and Jews alike are aware that the White House hopefuls tend to churn out peace plans for the Middle East in the run-up to the elections. Predictably, by the end of his first presidential term B. Obama obviously faced an irresistible temptation to join the ranks of those who made attempts to broker a reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians.
From the outset, Obama’s approach to international politics used to be marked with ambiguity and dualism.Upon admitting that the war in Iraq was a mistake and pledging to withdraw the US forces from the country, he somehow allowed Pentagon chief R. Gates, a key author of the campaign, to retain his post in the revamped Administration. Obama’s form of engagement with Europe also emerged as a fairly strange phenomenon: the US president who had directed biting criticism at G. Bush for allegedly ruining Washington’s relations with its NATO partners provoked Europe’s diving into the campaign in Libya just to leave the recklessly enthusiastic France and Italy to handle the situation on their own under the pretext that Libya occupied no line on the US strategic agenda.
The fresh US administration scored no points in Afghanistan despite the fact that fighting the Talibs used to be a focal point of Obama’s stated foreign-policy to-do list. The failure was explainable, though: like any war, the one in Afghanistan took sacrifices which Americans do not volunteer. As a result, Obama declined to deploy a heavier ground force in Afghanistan, while stamping out the Talibs based on air raids alone was clearly impossible.
When the news about the killing of Bin Laden were fed to the media way ahead of the summer-fall, 2012 hot phase of the race for presidency in the US, some of the analysts concluded that Obama and his inner circle were not confident of the incumbent’s chances to even secure his own party’s nomination as a presidential candidate, least of the eventual success of his re-election bid.
US and European generous financial infusions into the Middle East peace process unbelievably inflated corruption in the top echelon of the Palestinian autonomy. The current divided condition of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank which are home to practically two “Palestinian states” is attributable to infighting in the Palestinian camp rather than to any ideological differences between Fatah and Hamas.
What Obama needs to get his elections-time dream to materialize is to coerce the Israeli and Palestinian leaders into sitting at the negotiations table…The prerequisite, obviously, is the existence of a common delegation representing all Palestinian factions, meaning that a Palestinian Autonomy’s government recognized, albeit formally, across the whole PNA has to be rebuilt. The US diplomacy must have the capability to work miracles, judging by the fact that Palestinian political groups including the recently warring Fatah and Hamas unexpectedly subscribed to a truce in Cairo on May 4 and called the international community to support the Palestinian statehood which a couple of weeks earlier the US president described as a desirable option in an address to the US diplomatic corps.
A glimpse of the map showing the 1967 borders between Israel and Arab countries and giving an idea of the distance between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea is enough to realize that only serious non-aggression guarantees issued by its neighbors can lead Israel to revert to the initial configuration. In this regard, the Palestinians who deny Israel’s very right to existence, refuse to promise that the would-be independent Palestine is going to be a demilitarized state, and do not agree to let Israel monitor compliance with the demilitarization requirements cannot count as reliable partners.
Suppose that that the Palestinians do consent to Israel’s set of conditions and even drop the contentious refugee repatriation theme from their agenda. What would happen next? First of all, by the 2010 law the Israeli administration can cede territories currently under Israel’s jurisdiction in a swap like the one suggested by Obama only provided that the step is approved in a nationwide referendum or by 2/3 of the Knesset. Secondly, Jerusalem – including East Jerusalem – was declared Israel’s indivisible capital, and the country is doing whatever it can to help it swell.
The future of the Temple Mount is the key issue in the context. Nothing in the world – no money or perks of an kind – can convince Israeli or Palestinian politicians alike to give consent to not having the Temple Mount, as renegades would simply be killed off by more radical of their brethren. The site is where the Muslim shrines ranking third in importance – the al-Aqsa and the Umar Mosques – are located, while the place is also unique to the Jews as it is strictly prescribed by the Torah as the site location for the third temple.
It is no revelation to Washington that the recent plan for the Middle East actually contributes nothing to the peace process, but selling the initiative to US voters still promises sizable benefits from the standpoint of Obama’s presidential campaign. Therefore, Israel can be sure that it faces no threat of peace enforcement and therefore has nothing to worry about. As for the Palestinians, they should look at things realistically and understand that the devotion to the peace process will evaporate the moment polling stations close in the US in 2012.
The future is going to be shaped by completely different factors. In some 25-30 years, Israel’s Arabs having the right to vote in parliamentary elections will outnumber the Israeli Jews, and the right of Israel – the country nurtured with the money from the US, British, and French Jews, for the most part – to its very existence will be called into question in a perfectly democratic manner. How are the Israeli Jews going to pick up the challenge? What is the world’s Jewish community going to do and what role will be taken by the US?
Megiddo is the Jewish name of the valley at the border between Israel and the future Palestine. And we – we call it Armageddon. And simply keep saying: Lord save us!