Monday, April 4, 2011

How Coalition Approach in Libya Redounds to Palestinians' Advantage

 Tony Karon has a new essay at The National (which I learned of via a tweet from Amjad Atallah) that suggests that Obama's multilateral approach to the intervention in Libya might now open the door to Palestinian statehood.

That door has been jammed shut for years now by that diplomatic charade that we call the "peace process," stewardship of which has been claimed from the beginning by the US, its self-proclaimed "honest broker."  Even with Mr. Obama's lofty (and, I'm sure, sincere) intention of securing a peace deal between Israeli and Palestinian sides and a consequent Palestinian state, US domestic politics (combined with a weakness of resolve on the part of Obama and Hillary Clinton) have rendered impossible any movement that might entail Israeli  "concessions" (an altogether ridiculous expression, as it hides the reality: Israel would have to return lands improperly colonized and occupied, as well as provide some modicum of justice for the Palestinian Arabs it forced into exile in the late 1940s).  The ridiculous extremes to which Obama has been thereby forced in the cause of protecting his 2012 political hide were reflected in the US's recent veto of an UN Security Council resolution that would have declared Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal - even though, as Karon notes, this is the explicit and long-held policy of the US, as well as the position required by international law.

But Obama and his allies' recent embrace of a multilateral approach to intervening in Libya may have provided the Palestinians - and their allies in the international community - a means to pry peace-process stewardship out of what have effectively become (channeling Charlton Heston here) America's "cold, dead hands" - by going to the UN General Assembly as well as appealing to other powers to step in and take charge.  Tony K. nails it:

Of course, the Israelis and their supporters in Washington will urge Mr Obama to reject any moves by the Quartet or the UN to codify the 1967 lines as a basis for a two-state solution. But most of those who had, with increasing alarm, accepted Washington's exclusive handling of the issue may now be taking Mr Obama's praise of Libya multilateralism as a cue to internationalise the search for a two-state solution in the Middle East's most intractable conflict. After all, Mr Obama made clear, that's "how the international community should work".

Indeed, he did; and indeed, it should.  Of course, if it comes to this, the McCain-Graham-Lieberman bunch  will take to "Meet the Press" and such to thump their collective all-American chest and bellow about how "the US leads," yada yada.

But if, having celebrated multilateralism vis-a-vis Libya, Obama tries to find weaselly rationales for claiming that, when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians, "I didn't mean it that way," then shame on him.

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