What’s Behind This Shift of Policy?
By Khalid Amayreh


Journalist — Occupied Palestine

The unbreakable US-Israeli ties gradually curtail the image of America Obama tries to build in the Middle East. (Reuters Photo)

In his landmark speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, on June 4, President Obama vowed to adopt a fair approach toward the Arab-Israel conflict. He criticized the Israeli policy of settlement expansion and repression against Palestinians, and promised to get Israel to freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank and Al-Quds (East Jerusalem) in order to facilitate the resumption of a more genuine peace process.

However, six months later, the Obama Administration’s approach toward the enduring Palestinian crisis seems more or less a mere re-cloning of George Bush’s policies.

Bush enthusiastically embraced Israeli settlement aggrandizement, blaming Palestinians for the failure of peace efforts.

Similarly, it seems that the Obama Administration is effectively succumbing to the Zionist hegemony in the United States as is evident from the latest statements by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Speaking during a joint press conference with Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in occupied Al-Quds on October 31, Clinton lauded the Israeli policy on the settlements, describing alleged Israeli concessions in this regard as “unprecedented”.

“What the Prime Minister has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy [of]settlements is unprecedented in the context of negotiations,” said Clinton.

She also claimed that a freeze on building settlements had not been a precondition for peace talks in the past.

Moreover, Clinton reiterated the same old platitudes about America’s commitment to a “comprehensive peace agreement” and the need for the resumption of peace talks as soon as possible.

Why Policy Changed?

It is not hard to know why the Obama Administration is reneging on erstwhile promises made during the American President’s speech in Cairo.

Obama had probably thought, mistakenly of course, that he would be able to convince Israel to rein its gluttonous rapacity for more Palestinian land.

Indeed, the fact that all the strenuous efforts done by the Middle East presidential envoy George Mitchell, to get Israel to freeze its frantic settlement drive in the West Bank, have utterly failed to put a dent in the Israeli behavior.

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who normally covers Israeli army violations of Palestinian rights in the occupied territories, argued that as long as the United States continued to beg Israel for concessions for peace, there would be no peace.

Writing recently in the Ha’aretz newspaper, Levy pointed out that “Israel is the occupier, the stubborn contrarian that continues to mock America and the world by building settlements and abusing Palestinians.”

“Now is the time to say to the United States: enough flattery. If you do not change the tone, nothing will change. As long as Israel feels [that] the United States is in its pocket, and that America’s automatic veto will save it from condemnation and sanctions, [Israeli will not stop its policies],” asserted Levy.

“[And, as long as Israel] will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying, and imprisoning without the world’s policeman making a sound, it will continue its ways,” Added Levy.

It is uncertain if Obama and other members of his administration are willing to internalize Levy’s words, let alone act on them.

Hence, the crucial question which the man in the White House must answer sooner than later is whether he would be willing (and able) to enter into a “confrontation” with Israel if confrontation is what it takes to resolve the Palestinian issue and safeguard America’s vital interests in the Muslim world.

So far, all indications suggest that Obama is dreading such a prospective confrontation. The powerful Israeli lobby — along with the Congress, often described as an Israeli-occupied territory — would make the very thought of challenging Israel, even on American soil, a nightmarish idea.

Cannot Be More Arab than Arabs

Moreover, Obama cannot be expected to be more Arab than Arabs themselves. Indeed, while Israel and its supporters and allies fight tooth and nail trying to cajole and even bully the Obama administration to support Israel, Arab leaders, including the Palestinian leadership, content themselves with pleading with Washington to pressure Israel. This is done as if the American foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, was based on charity rather than expediency and power politics.

This colossal impotence on the part of the Arab regimes has long convinced Washington that Arabs were not serious about the Palestinian cause, and that whatever show of support they occasionally display was only meant for public consumption.

A few years ago, it was reported that an American ambassador in one Arab country in the Gulf region confronted a high-ranking official from that country, asking him why Arab regimes keep ranting about the Palestinian tragedy while flinching from bringing America to task for its unrestricted and unlimited support of Israel. The Arab official reportedly asked the ambassador to change the subject.

In fact, the official Arab discourse vis-à-vis the Palestinian cause has become so scandalous and pathetic that most Arab regimes have come to view the Palestinian issue as a burden, not as a just national Arab-Muslim cause to be defended by all means available.

It is not a coincidence that a single non-Arab Middle Eastern Muslim state, namely Turkey, is now exerting more influence on Israel than all Arab states combined, prompting the Israeli regime to reconsider some of its policies and actions in deference to Ankara.

Unlike Arab leaderships, the Turkish one respects itself, and values the legitimacy that comes from the Turkish masses more than that which comes from the American or Western acceptance.

This is why a statement by a Turkish official carries more weight than all the futile rhetoric coming from Arab capitals, which is mostly intended to deceive and beguile the Arab masses.

What is Next?

The United States is likely to continue behaving as it has always behaved — namely to bully the weak Palestinian leadership of Mahmud Abbas to keep up the “eternal” peace talks with Israel.

These talks probably will continue until the second advent of the Messiah, when Israel has got all the time needed for liquidating the Palestinian cause, and when nothing is left to negotiate about.

We certainly do not know when the Messiah’s second coming will take place, but we do know that Israel has already killed all prospects for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

External powers, especially in the West, may continue to be bamboozled by the foolish talk about the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, with East Al-Quds as its capital, as if this prospect was still realistic. However, we who are in the eye of the storm cannot be deceived any longer. After all, we cannot belie our own eyes.

It is really lamentable and scandalous that the PA leadership continues to pretend that things are still all right, and that by reiterating the same tedious platitudes about the hatefulness of the Israeli occupation, things will somehow improve and the world will move to check the slow-motion Israeli holocaust against our people.

Unfortunately, this impotent discourse on the part of the Ramallah leadership is not only the product of powerlessness. It is also an expression of stupidity and a certain propensity to betray the Palestinian people, either because of accumulative frustration or political misjudgment.

The PA leadership has vowed to refuse to resume the nearly moribund peace process with Israel until it freezes all settlement activities. This is a correct posture that must be sustained.  However, Mr. Abbas should be served a caveat: do not retreat from this stance and then claim that “the Arabs told me do so”.

More to the point, the PA must insist that the “end game” be elucidated “before” any resumption of talks with Israel, because otherwise the Palestinian people would continue to revolve in the same empty circle, as they have been ever since the conclusion of the cursed Oslo Accords more than 16 years ago.

Moreover, if all other avenues are shut, then we must seriously think of dissolving the nominally autonomous authority, the PA, and revert to the pre-Oslo era, when the occupation appeared as it was in reality, without any layer of cosmetics as it does today.

Nonetheless, the Palestinian people must not give in to despair. Their cause is just and supported by millions of honest and free-minded people around the world. Without freedom and justice for Palestinians, there would be no peace and stability, not only in this region, but in the entire world as well.

Crusades remained in Palestine over a hundred years before they were vanquished and defeated. Israel, an entity based on oppression, ethnic cleansing, and racism, will eventually meet the same fate.

Khalid Amayreh is a journalist living in Palestine. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983. Since the 1990s, Mr. Amayreh has been working and writing for several news outlets among which is, Al-Ahram Weekly, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), and Middle East International.


  1. November 6, 2009 at 00:33

    […] on the part of the Arab regimes has long convinced Washington that … Read more here: THE END OF OBAMA'S GOOD WILL TOWARD PALESTINE? « Desertpeace Share and […]

  2. Hans said,

    November 6, 2009 at 05:58

    It is not a coincidence that a single non-Arab Middle Eastern Muslim state, namely Turkey, is now exerting more influence on Israel than all Arab states combined There we go again just proves my point spineless donkeys leading lions. I say open their bank accounts lets see what they are hiding.

  3. Michael W said,

    November 6, 2009 at 19:59

    What makes you think Obama ever really opposed the Zionists’ crimes against the Palestinians? He’s lied about everything else.

  4. Klaus Weiß said,

    November 6, 2009 at 20:23

    After reading his speech at Cairo, I was not able to understand the branding “landmark”. This guy promises everything to everybody and acts in a way that will not harm his next campaign funding.

  5. Andy said,

    November 7, 2009 at 03:22

    What did you expect with an Israeli/American dual citizen as chief of staff?

  6. anon said,

    November 7, 2009 at 08:11

    Expecting any POTUS to act on their rhetoric regarding the Palestinians is futile.

    The POTUS is more likely to give Texas back to Mexico rather than force Israel into line.

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