Bill Clinton: If there won’t be peace, it’s because of “political complexity of Israeli government”

Posted: December 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

bill clinton

Former US president, Bill Clinton, thinks there is a chance for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians this year. This is from his interview at Foreign Policy:

“I think that the long-term trend lines are bad for both sides that have the capacity to make a deal. Right now, Hamas is kind of discredited after the Gaza operation, and yet [the Palestinian Authority] is clearly increasing [its] capacity. They are in good shape right now, but if they are not able to deliver sustained economic and political advances, that’s not good for them. The long-term trends for the Israelis are even more stark, because they will soon enough not be a majority. Then they will have to decide at that point whether they will continue to be a democracy and no longer be a Jewish state, or continue to be a Jewish state and no longer be a democracy. That’s the great spur.”

What’s even more interesting is the reason Clinton is giving for why there might not be a peace agreament after all:

“I think one of the surprising things that might happen this year [2010] is you might get a substantial agreement. Nobody believes this will happen, and it probably won’t, because of the political complexity of the Israeli government.”

Clinton said something similar two weeks ago to Yeditoth’s Nahum Barnea, about the American need to be “sensitive to Israeli politics”. This seems like the dominant view in the State Department lately, and it explains why the US backed down form the aggressive tone it used towards Jerusalem in the first few months of the new administration. I, for once, believe this to be a mistake. The US has been sensitive to Israeli PMs’ political needs for decades, and look where it got us.

If there is something Israeli officials know to do, is play this delicate game with the settlers, of encouraging them and at the same time presenting themselves as the political hostages. As most pundits observed in this weekend’s papers here, even Netanyahu knows that some right-wing protest now serves him well.

It were the few times that the US ignored these games and tried to push Israel a bit more firmly that got the real results: the cease fire agreement after the 1973 war; the clash between the Bush (the father) administration and Yitzhak Shamir’s government in 1991 that led to the 90′s peace process, and Obama’s clear demand from Israel regarding the settlements, that had an effect both on an extreme rightwing Israeli government and on public opinion.

But still, I think president Clinton would make an excellent special envoy to the Middle East.

Clinton said something similar two weeks ago to Yeditoth’s Nahum Barnea, about the American need to be “sensitive to Israeli politics”. This seems like the dominant view in the State Department lately, and it explains why the US backed up form the aggressive tone it used towards Jerusalem in the first few months of the new administration. I, for once, believe this to be a mistake. The US has been sensitive to Israeli PMs’ political needs for decades, and look where it got us.

If there is something Israeli official know how to do, is play this delicate game with the settlers, of encouraging them and presenting themselves as the political hostages at the same time. Netanyahu knows that some right-wing protest now serves him well.

It were the few times that the US ignored these games and tried to push Israel a bit more firmly that got the real results: the cease fire agreement after the 1973 war; the clash between the Bush (the father) administration and Shamir’s government in 1991 that led to the 90′s peace process, and Obama’s clear demand from Israel regarding the settlements, that had an effect both on an extreme right-wing Israeli government and on public opinion.

But still, I think Clinton would make an excellent special envoy to the Middle East.


Comments are closed.