There is more chance of Saddam Hussein’s elusive weapons of mass destruction suddenly turning up in Iraq than there is of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing on the terms for a two-state solution in Washington this week. That does not mean the direct talks being orchestrated by President Barack Obama are pointless. On the contrary, they represent a moment of truth, not for the Israelis or the Palestinians, but for Mr Obama, who is creating a crisis by forcing irreconcilable differences between the two sides onto the table. The question now becomes, what is Washington prepared to do once the Israelis and Palestinians fail to agree. . . .
The real importance of this week’s talks is the symbolic sense of the US taking ownership of the issue. An old line on the two-state peace in Washington, sometimes repeated by Obama administration officials, holds that the US “cannot want this more than the parties themselves do”. If anything, the process launched this week will prove that the reverse is true: unless the US is prepared to join with international partners and impose a two-state solution, Mr Obama is in fact presiding over its funeral.
Obama has no real political will to push back against the AIPAC-Christian Zionist bunch, especially in the wake of a Glenn Beck extravaganza that called America back to its "religious values" (which in Beck-land means unwavering support for Israel and its colonization of "Judea and Samaria") and in the face of upcoming elections. And in any event, without Hamas included in the mix, there's no chance for a sustainable solution that might bring real peace.
All of which means that these talks are going nowhere (although Obama will likely demand some kind of "statement of intention", or promise to talk some more - i.e., a pretty bow to decorate the big turd that will be the outcome of this farce. Moreover, has he thought about the public reaction among the Arab "moderates" - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan - and in Turkey when an even more disgraced Mahmud Abbas goes back to the West Bank with nothing to show for it. Obama is counting on the leaders of all of these countries to back up the US's efforts to work with the "new Iraq." Instead, those same leaders are going to be confronted by newly angered publics who will have learned again that, despite his words of outreach and accommodation, Obama is just one more American false promise.