Barack Obama’s visit to Jordan and Israel this week turned out to be one very big yawn as he endorsed President Bush’s fundamentally flawed and totally failed plan - the so called “two state solution” - designed to create a new Arab State between Jordan and Israel - where none has ever existed before.
Hailed as the shining light for change on America’s political horizon Mr Obama showed himself to be completely bereft of any new ideas to end the territorial conflict between Jews and Arabs over this tiny piece of land the size of Delaware.
This was clearly evident as he told a press conference in Amman:
“I do believe that an ultimate resolution is going to involve two states standing side by side in peace and security, and that the Israelis and the Palestinians are going to both have to make compromises in order to arrive at that two-state solution.”
What Mr Obama ignores is the fact that 5 years of the most intense diplomatic pressure by America, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - the Quartet - has failed to bring even the slightest hint of any breakthrough in realising the Bush solution that Mr Obama still so seriously espouses.
Mr Obama sought to explain away the failure to achieve this “ultimate resolution” by asserting to the assembled media:
“Now, one of the difficulties that we have right now is that in order to make those compromises you have to have strong support from your people, and the Israeli government right now is unsettled. You know, the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas. And so it’s difficult for either side to make the bold move that would bring about peace the way, for example, the peace between Israel and Egypt was brought about. Those leaders were in a much stronger position to initiate that kind of peace.”
This statement is a complete furphy for three major reasons:
1. Israel’s Government is not unsettled - unless you call threats to flee the coalition unsettling, which is a constant fact of life in all democracies. Whilst its Prime Minister is almost out on his knees, the democratically elected Government continues to maintain a parliamentary majority and the confidence of the Knesset to ensure that any compromises an Israeli Government makes will be honoured and enforced .
2. The objectives of Fatah and Hamas are identical - the elimination of the existence of Israel as the Jewish State - as both their constitutions frankly and openly declare. Hamas says this can only be achieved by armed struggle whilst Fatah thinks it can happen via the diplomatic route.
No matter which one of them the Palestinians choose - or even if they reconcile and reunite to form a government of national unity - how then can there ever be any bold move for peace whilst this joint mind set continues to persist and what is the point of any further negotiations with either of them until such racist ideology is first removed from their respective platforms?
3. The peace between Israel and Egypt concerned sovereign territory that belonged to Egypt prior to its loss to Israel in 1967. This then became a far easier conflict to resolve than the West Bank and Gaza - territory in which sovereignty has remained undetermined since 1920 but to which Israel claims superior title over any other claimants under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, article 80 of the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions 242 and 337.
Mr Obama cannot be that ignorant, naïve or poorly advised to be unaware of these basic contradictions to his statement to the media
He himself has given Hamas and Fatah notice of his stance on their policy to eliminate Israel telling a meeting of the American and Israel Public Affairs Committee just last month :
“[A]ny agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.”
In doing so Mr Obama has given his wholehearted endorsement to a similar statement made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 - sounding the death knell then - and now - for President Bush’s vision ever coming to fruition.
This is the ultimate deal breaker that neither Hamas nor Fatah will ever be prepared to relinquish and which America has quite rightly said is totally abhorrent and must be rejected.
Mr Obama has now also affirmed to the Jerusalem Post in an interview this week that there will have to be some “give and take” in the West Bank - knowing full well that the Palestinian Authority has refused to give even one square metre for the last five years. He also made it clear in the same interview that Israel cannot be expected to return to the armistice lines that existed prior to the Six Day War in June 1967.
So why is Mr Obama still endorsing President Bush’s two state solution when he knows it can never eventuate?
Is this how he seeks to establish his leadership and foreign policy credentials - by continuing to engage in a diplomatic process begun by the incumbent American President that has been a total diplomatic disaster since it was first articulated?
Why would Mr Obama want to be associated with this clear policy failure by - and humiliation of - the world’s only superpower to bring about the division of a tiny piece of real estate between two competing parties to end the conflict between them?
In continuing to endorse Mr Bush’s failed vision, Mr Obama has made it clear that he is more interested in not rocking the American political boat by giving his opponents any sniff that he might contemplate a different direction in resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute.
In doing so he has aligned himself with a failed President - obviously deciding this is less of a political risk than formulating his own bold move for trying to achieve what so many past American Presidents have wanted to do - but also failed to achieve.
That might be smart politics - but it has merely confirmed that on this issue he lacks the sincerity and conviction to be the architect for change and to break the unbridgeable deadlock that has spelt doom for the current negotiations and will continue to plague them until they are finally disbanded.
Meanwhile the killing and carnage will continue followed by the usual condemnations and recriminations.
Mr Obama’s visit to the Middle East this week has shown he is just your ordinary politician after all.