Last evening, July 11, I was a guest on Le 17/20 on French news channel, LCI. The panel was intended to focus on yesterday's meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Washington DC, but evolved into a discussion primarily about Israeli and Palestinian internal politics.
I contributed an analysis of the American political landscape with the following reflections:
--How strong is Obama's political will to press this issue? Currently on his plate: consuming debt negotiations and the early stages of the 2012 electoral cycle. Israel's defense and security is a US domestic electoral issue. Even if Obama were willing to take a harder line to transform his May 2011 speech into action, this would necessarily involve increased pressure on Israel and opening himself (and his campaign) to avid criticism from across the two-party spectrum, including from representatives protecting their own seats in their home districts.
--A closer look at US domestic opposition to the Palestinian vote this September: I signaled the resolution proposed by Reps. Cantor (R-VA) and Hoyer (D-MD), which passed the House almost unanimously (407-6), and threatens to suspend aid to Palestine if they proceed with the UN vote this September and advance toward a deal with Hamas.
--The US's inability to translate words to action: Again, no progress to speak of following Obama's speech; the loss of a widely-respected envoy (Mitchell) who failed to invest the two parties in productive dialogue; a replacement for Mitchell, David Hale, who has barely been visible on the issue; and an American administration very reticent to convene the Quartet out of almost total disbelief that it could produce any effective course of action heading into the summer.
--I suggested that Washington's paradoxical objectives (protection of Israel while maintaining access to Arab oil supplies) can often create an obstacle to developing a coherent policy in the region.
- Amy Greene