The Obama administration has denied that it is preparing to impose on Israel its own “final status” plan for a new Palestinian Authority state, despite specific advice to that effect by an unofficial advisor.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who advised former President Bill Clinton and was sidelined from being an official Obama advisor because of his anti-Israel views, suggested to the White House that it scrap its attempts to continue the PA-Israeli track for mediated talks.
The New York Times recently detailed a meeting of presidential aides at which Brzezinski made his proposal. President Obama attended part of the meeting, and media reports of details of discussions may have been a trial balloon.
Times reporter Helene Cooper wrote that the meeting was chaired by national security advisor General James Jones, a former thorn in the side of the IDF when he was the American military envoy in Israel. He insisted that an American plan for a new PA state is the only way to break the current diplomatic stalemate.
President Obama reportedly listened without agreeing or disagreeing, but his presence gave prominence, if not support, for the views of Brzezinski, which were shared by Brent Scowcroft and Samuel Berger, national security advisers to former presidents.
Jones said on Friday, “There has been no decision” on the United States presenting its own solution but added, “We don't intend to surprise anybody at any time."
Previous experience in Washington’s involvement in the Middle East has shown that the executive branch and the State Department often deny reports of new initiatives but later implement them after arguing that such moves were necessary to “keep the peace process moving forward.”
The Washington Post reported that a senior Obama official said that an American plan is “absolutely not on the table right now” but implied that “right now” is likely to arrive in the near future. He was quoted as saying that American-mediated talks, if they ever resume, would “undoubtedly get mired down, and then you can expect that we would go in with something.”
An Obama final status plan would almost assuredly include dividing Jerusalem, with the Palestinian Authority declaring it as its capital.
Jonathan Tobin wrote on the Commentary web site, “The effort to leak this story to multiple outlets appears to be a continuation of Obama’s feud with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Having failed to make Netanyahu bend to his will on the building of homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama is now raising the stakes by pointedly holding out the possibility that he will impose his own partition on Israel’s capital after the certain failure of the so-called ‘proximity talks’ — so named because the Palestinians will not even sit in the same room to talk peace with Israelis.
“Obama’s diplomatic war on Israel seems to be just beginning.”