Netanyahu must be basking now in even more pleasure than usual as he has two excuses at the moment not to make peace. He predictably rejected President Obama’s suggestion that peace negotiations begin with the 1967 borders and changes to those borders could be negotiated and settled by various land swaps and such. Bibi apparently didn’t bother to consider land swaps and just announced that the 1967 borders would leave Israel indefensible. I suspect that without massive uncritical U.S. support no Israeli borders would be secure (but perhaps I am wrong). What is truly at stake here are the massive illegal settlements the Israelis have been building for years on occupied Palestinian land, settlements they do not want to give up, and apparently do not want to have to swap much of anything to keep them as they are now “facts on the ground.” Clever, no? It’s like saying to bank robbers, “Well, you already took the money so you might as well just keep it.”
The other reason Bibi must be happy is he can now refuse to discuss peace with the Palestinians because of Hamas. Remember that very recently Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement to merge and operate together to negotiate for a Palestinian state. For years Israel has refused to negotiate on the grounds that there was no viable Palestinian organization to negotiate with. Now there is one, but happily for Bibi, he can still refuse to negotiate because he won’t negotiate with Hamas. So with the 1967 borders out of the question, and Hamas considered illegitimate, Bibi can continue with his plan to keep the Palestinians divided and spread out in such conclaves a viable state will be impossible to emerge. So why is Hamas illegitimate? Because Hamas won the 2006 election, a perfectly legitimate democratic election, but one that did not produce the result Israel and the U.S. preferred. So rather than recognize the legality of the election and the win by Hamas, we withdrew our support for them and labeled them a terrorist organization. While we and Israel claim they are a terrorist organization, Russia, China, and others countries do not so consider them. So, so much for our hypocritical claims of wanting to encourage and spread democracy in the Middle East.
I believe it is obvious that Israel does not want a peace agreement with the Palestinians, certainly not if they have to give up any of their ill-gotten gains, and they certainly do not want a viable Palestinian state for a neighbor. If an agreement is ever to be reached it can only happen if the U.S. and the other world powers drag the Israelis kicking and screaming all the way. There is some reason to believe that enough pressure is building, especially now because of the Arab spring, to bring this about. Basically it will be mostly up to the U.S. to force the issue. President Obama has made an important gesture to the Palestinians, let’s see if he can work the miracle that has escaped all past Presidents (of course even if he did he would not get any of the credit for it as it must be the result of something George W. Bush did).
The Republican circus continues to produce candidates, it appears that Herman Cain is now definite, along with Romney and Pawlenty, as well as Gingrich, Santorum, Johnson, and I suppose Bachmann. Sarah, the Housewife from Hell, is still teasing but I doubt she will run. I sure we can count out Cain, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann. Romney and Pawlenty are not what you might consider heavy hitters but for the moment it seems that’s about it. Huntsman I gather is still thinking about it but he’s much to coy about it and will probably not get in (I think). If employment continues to pick up as it seems slowly to be doing, and if some of our troops begin to come home, and if the economy continues to do well, President Obama can probably take on the whole lot of the Republican candidates with one hand tied behind his back. If that were to happen, and if Democrats manage to take back the House and a few Governorships, it might be possible to go back to running the country once more.