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Ear to the Ground

Obama: No Preconditions on Mideast Peace Talks

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Posted on Sep 23, 2009
Obama at the UN
AP / Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

So, things didn’t go so well Tuesday for Barack Obama and his honored guests, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the latter of whom refused to budge on the contentious issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Well, now President Obama is doing some not-budging of his own on the issue, as he told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.  —KA

BBC:

“The time has come to re-launch negotiations - without preconditions - that address the permanent-status issues: security… borders, refugees and Jerusalem,” Mr Obama said at the annual UN General Assembly in New York.

He also spoke about the need to break old patterns, in which the US backed Israeli security without insisting it respect legitimate Palestinian rights.

And he condemned some UN member states for “choos[ing] vitriolic attacks” against Israel rather than recognising its “legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security”.

A few moments earlier he had reiterated that the US “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements”.

The speech followed a difficult period for US diplomacy, as intensive efforts failed to get the two sides to renew negotiations, which have been suspended since December.

Former Palestinian security chief Mohammad Dahlan said the Palestinians might refuse to accept an invitation from Mr Obama to return negotiations without a freeze in settlements.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, September 24, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Many compare the Northern Ireland “Troubles” to the Palestinian “Catastrophe” and there are similarities and differences.  The major difference is that in northern Ireland neither party could see a clear way to victory and thus a stalemate and eventual road to an agreement.  Not so in the ME, neither party is fully defeated.  The Palestinians believe a protracted resistance will lead to a victory of sorts especially if a pro-Arab US president is in office——maybe it is BHO.  The Israeli economy rest much upon its military machine and is in no particular rush to reach an agreement or even start talks and that includes Syria. The sticking point is Iran——how that plays out should be very interesting both for Israel and the Sunni ME.

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Robert's avatar

By Robert, September 24, 2009 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

September 23, 2009

The Drama and the Farce

The Waldorf-Astoria Summit

By URI AVNERY

“NO POINT denying it: in the first round of the match between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama was beaten.

Obama had demanded a freeze of all settlement activity, including East Jerusalem, as a condition for convening a tripartite summit meeting, in the wake of which accelerated peace negotiations were to start, leading to peace between two states – Israel and Palestine.

In the words of the ancient proverb, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Netanyahu has tripped Obama on his first step. The President of the United States has stumbled.

* * *

THE THREEFOLD summit did indeed take place. But instead of a shining achievement for the new American administration, we witnessed a humbling demonstration of weakness. After Obama was compelled to give up his demand for a settlement freeze, the meeting no longer had any content.

True, Mahmoud Abbas did come, after all. He was dragged there against his will. The poor man was unable to refuse the invitation from Obama, his only support. But he will pay a heavy price for this flight: the Palestinians, and the entire Arab world, have seen his weakness. And Obama, who had started his term with a ringing speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, now looks like a broken reed.

The Israeli peace movement has been dealt another painful blow. It had pinned its hopes on the steadfastness of the American president. Obama’s victory and the settlement freeze were to show the Israeli public that the refusal policy of Netanyahu was leading to disaster.

But Netanyahu has won, and in a big way. Not only did he survive, not only has he shown that he is no “sucker” (a word he uses all the time), he has proven to his people – and to the public at large – that there is nothing to fear: Obama is nothing but a paper tiger. The settlements can go on expanding without hindrance. Any negotiations that start, if they start at all, can go on until the coming of the Messiah. Nothing will come out of them.

For Netanyahu, the threat of peace has passed. At least for the time being.

* * *

IT IS difficult to understand how Obama allowed himself to get into this embarrassing situation.

Machiavelli taught that one should not challenge a lion unless one is able to kill him. And Netanyahu is not even a lion, just a fox.

Why did Obama insist on the settlement freeze – in itself a very reasonable demand – if he was unable to stand his ground? Or, in other words, if he was unable to impose it on Netanyahu?”

http://www.counterpunch.org/avnery09232009.html

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By nubeewon, September 24, 2009 at 1:01 am Link to this comment

I think Israel is in for an unpleasant surprise.

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By P. T., September 24, 2009 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

That didn’t take long.  Whether or not Obama was serious about a peace process would be made clear early in his administration by his position on Israel’s illegal settlements.  Obama has caved to Netanyahu.  He is not serious.

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By rollzone, September 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

hello. lies to not be held responsible for actions next week by Israel; to prevent Iran from completing the nuclear holocaust. painting a neutral stance, so the middle east region will know Israel will do what Israel must do: without the support of the USofA. this is the old soft shoe until after the nuclear issue is ended with Iran, and sane discussions can take place regarding Israeli paranoia about the return of the holocaust, and the role of the Palestinians. it is a limp duck stance that is naive and dishonorable, but he will defend it with dignity.

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By ricardo99, September 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How do they keep pretending there are no conditions??  Israel and the West have imposed lots of conditions.

#1 They won’t talk or negotiate with the freely and fairly elected Palestinian government.

#2 The will only talk with the certified puppets Abbas and Fayad. Abbas was elected in an election boycotted by the major Palestinian groups and where the election was judged UNfree and UNfair by election observers. He constitutional term of office expired last January. Fayad was not elected to anything; he was appointed by Abbas.

This is all farce and Obama is losing credibility and respect by the day.

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By Commune115, September 23, 2009 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Obama is never going to seriously challenge Israeli interests because in regional terms, they are in step with US interests are his #1 priority at the end of the day.

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By Folktruther, September 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

This rhetoric is an attempt to get the US puppets Abbas, etc to attend fake Peace Talks which Israel continues to steal Palestinian homes and lands to build Stettlements.  Truthdig, like all the Zionist media, tries to obscure the reality and sanitize it.

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