Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu squandered their golden opportunity
The mistakes of the past 30 months have created an abysmal gap between the Palestinians' expectations, the Israelis' needs and the international community's perceptions.
Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu had 30 good months at their disposal. The opportunity was golden, with a new leadership offering hope in America, a resurgent economy in Palestine and a quiet security situation in Israel.
All these three had to do was to craft one creative strategic concept to advance the dividing of the land between its peoples. Obama had to announce that the vision is for two nation-states living side by side in peace. Abbas had to recognize the Jewish state. Netanyahu had to accept the 1967 principle. Together, the three leaders should have built on the basis of the great work Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is doing in the West Bank. They should have shaped a gradual, cautious process, which would lead to the establishment of a stable, thriving and peace-seeking Palestine by the middle of the decade.
But Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu did not craft a creative concept. They squandered the 30 good months they had and missed the golden opportunity. Netanyahu refused to renounce, Abbas refused to talk, Obama refused to be realistic. Delusional ideas, idiotic principles and evil impulses turned the peace policy into a farce. Never have so many mistakes been made in such a short time in such a sensitive place.
Therefore, what will be presented to the UN General Assembly today will not be an outline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace. It will be a frontal Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. Mahmoud Abbas will speak about one justice. Benjamin Netanyahu will speak about another justice. Between the justice of one and the justice of the other there will be no reconciliation. They will fight each other and polemicize and open an all-out diplomatic war.
The Palestinians made a grave error in the past month. Success went to their heads and they overplayed their hand. Going head-to-head against Obama turned Abbas into a rival and played into Netanyahu's hands. But Netanyahu could make that very same mistake now. After succeeding to break in a wayward American president, he believes everything is OK. But everything is not OK. The occupation is not OK, Israel is not OK, the Middle East is not OK.
There's a real world outside the Capital Beltway that encircles Washington and its internal politics. So the ceremonial triumph of this week must be used to show generosity and ingenuity and daring. It is high time to come up with a courageous Israeli initiative.
This historic moment is still dangerous. The mistakes of the past 30 months have created an abysmal gap between the Palestinians' expectations, the Israelis' needs and the international community's perceptions. This gap is asking for trouble. It could bring an end to the 18 years of Oslo. It could bring an end to the seven years of Abbas-Fayyad. It could turn a fragile stability into active instability. So today's speech-makers must come to their senses.
This Friday is bad Friday. But Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu still have a few days left to offer us all a new year of hope.