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December 07, 2010

Smart Diplomacy: Obama Administration Gives Up On Forcing Israel To Freeze Settlements

When Obama started pushing the latest round of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians I predicted it would come to nothing (I really went out on a limb with that one). Alas, I was wrong. Something did come of this gambit...more confirmation Obama is in over his head.

The United States has abandoned efforts to convince Israel to renew a freeze on settlement construction as a precondition for renewing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a State Department official said Tuesday.

U.S.-Israeli talks over a possible settlement freeze have ended after what the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomacy, called a "joint determination." A previous Israeli moratorium on new settlements in the occupied West Bank expired in September, and Palestinians have refused to return to stalled talks unless new construction stops.

Washington will continue to work with both sides on core issues, with Palestinian negotiators set to visit Washington next week, the official said. But the United States and Israel "have determined a moratorium extension at this time will not provide the best basis for direct negotiations," the official added.

All of that drama with Netanyahu and putting distance the US and Israel got Obama....nothing.

As we saw with the health care debate and now the tax deal, we see Obama can't bring Democrats together on amicable terms, let alone craft a deal with Republicans. How exactly this guy was going to bridge the Israel-Palestinian divide was always a mystery to me.

At one point the Israelis were offered a squadron of F-35s in exchange for a three month extension of the freeze. I imagine the Israelis figured the F-35s were a long, long way away and they might be able to get them in the future from another, more friendly, US administration without giving up anything now.

Poor Obama...this being President thing is hard. It might have been helpful to have some real experience before running for the job.

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posted by DrewM. at 06:21 PM

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