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August 20, 2010

US To Host Israel-Palestinian Talks

What could go wrong?

Mrs Clinton said the talks are due to begin on September 2 and will be hosted by President Barack Obama. She said she hoped a comprehensive peace agreement can be reached within one year.

"There have been difficulties in the past, there will be difficulties ahead. .. I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region," Mrs Clinton said.

The leaders of Egypt and Jordan also have been invited to attend the first session.

In a statement, the Quartet - the EU, the UN, the US and Russia - said its members reaffirmed direct negotiations between the parties, "which can be completed within one year."

Well, Obama needed a "win" and I guess this will do in a pinch. As far as headlines go, it's better than "Obama Doesn't Care About 9/11 Families On Ground Zero Mosque" or "Obama Is A Muslim!".

For a guy who was supposed to be all about 'new politics' this is pretty much the same old, same old. When a President is in the dumps at home, they usually turn to a foreign affairs problem to change the subject. Given the intractable nature of the problem, I'd say like the guy in the Last Crusade, Obama has chosen poorly. Even more problematic for Team Obama is the fact that a high profile foreign affairs summit isn't exactly going to convince people he's all about "jobs, jobs, jobs", which happens to be one of the most important issues this fall.

As for the summit itself, call me a pessimist but my prediction is that in a year, this latest version of the "Peace Process" will amount to very little. The first stumbling block will hit pretty soon...Israel's settlement freeze is due to expire on September 26th. Obama and the Palestinians aren't fond of new settlements while those pesky Jews outrageously insist on doing whatever they want in their own country. What magic does Obama have for that relatively minor problem?

Despite the bleating of editorial pages here and in Europe, the real issue in the Mideast isn't this, it's Iran and it's nuclear program. There maybe some connections though....

The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran’s nuclear program, has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year — and perhaps longer — for Iran to complete what one senior official called a “dash” for a nuclear weapon, according to American officials.

...“We think that they have roughly a year dash time,” said Gary Samore, President Obama’s top adviser on nuclear issues, referring to how long it would take the Iranians to convert nuclear material into a working weapon. “A year is a very long period of time.”

American officials said the United States believed international inspectors would detect an Iranian move toward breakout within weeks, leaving a considerable amount of time for the United States and Israel to consider military strikes.

Considering the history of failure within the US intelligence community on this issue I don't take a great deal of comfort in their ability to forecast the state of Iran's program. I have even less confidence in the idea that this administration will act in a decisive way should they have credible evidence of Iran approaching the nuclear threshold.

Bottom line, brace yourself for fawning headlines.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:26 PM

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