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      Egypt Backs Away from Obama's Direct Talks Failure

      Backing away from what appears to be a failing endeavor, Egypt expresses its displeasure with the Obama administration in an Al-Ahram editorial.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 10/31/2010, 1:49 PM / Last Update: 10/31/2010, 4:12 PM

      Flash 90

      The Obama White House is not winning any points with the Arab world for its failure to force Israel to its knees in Judea and Samaria, and is now probably being forced to pay the piper for having over-promoted direct talks between the Jewish State and the Palestinian Authority.

      An editorial in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram has slammed U.S. President Barack Obama for having failed to persuade Israel to reinstate the freeze on Jewish construction in the territories where the PA hopes to create its new country.

      Perhaps as a means of backing away from what appears to be a sinking ship, the weekly, which serves as the official mouthpiece for the Egyptian government, criticized the Obama administration for “effectively ceding the sovereignty of the United States in its foreign policy to Israel.”

      Wielding the axe was Ramzy Baroud, editor of PalestineChronicle.com, who wrote, “The president of the United States has, expectedly, failed to persuade Israeli leaders to uphold such a basic prerequisite to ensuring a smooth sailing peace process... Its resumption signaled the return of American diplomacy to the Middle East.”

      Egyptian anger apparently came in response to a letter allegedly written by Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in which he outlined a proposal designed to move the talks that have again stalled between Israel and the PA.

      News of the letter, leaked by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, allegedly stated there would be no further requests for a freeze on construction – other than a 60-day extension of the freeze that expired this past September. Moreover, Obama allegedly guaranteed a U.S. veto of any U.N. Security Council Resolution related to peace talks for a 12-month period, and agreed to increase pressure on Iran.

      “Among the many disturbing pledges made by the Obama administration, one seems particularly generous,” noted Baroud pointedly. Quoting the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he said the U.S. would “accept the legitimacy of Israel's security needs as defined by the Netanyahu government, referring apparently to the Israeli leader's demand for a long-term Israeli military presence in the eastern West Bank, along the border with Jordan.

      “For Obama to lease his country's political influence to a foreign state for cheap political gain is bad enough,” raged Baroud. “To achieve personal and party political goals at the expense of the national interest is equally disturbing. But to promise a lasting military presence of an occupying power in another people's land for a mere 60-day settlement freeze is completely unethical and illogical.”

      Calling Obama and his aides “desperate salesmen before a conceited, disapassionate tourist,” Baroud observed that the American president had “learned the limits of the political overreach of his country when it comes to Israel – as much as the Iraq war has demonstrated the limits of military power.”

      Baroud went on to complain about Israel's recent passage of “racist news laws” – specifically, the pledge of allegiance to the nation as a “Jewish and democratic state.” The Egyptian writer called the new pledge, a given in almost any other democratic society, including the United States, an “undemocratic law by every count... aimed largely at the Palestinian Christian and Muslim population, the natives of that land.”

      Nor did he spare PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for vitriol. “He has no political power, leverage or influence,” Baroud wrote scornfully. “He can only do what he is told.” He added that Abbas had inadvertently helped Netanyahu return from “political oblivion” by providing a political platform with the launch of a legitimate peace process with a Palestinian partner. 

      Ignored was the fact that Egypt itself had participated in that process, and in fact facilitated the talks, with much fanfare and photo ops -- including a botched attempt by an Egyptian editor to promote President Hosni Mubarak's role in the event by doctoring an official White House photo.