Obama has named a friggen dinosaur to be middle east envoy. George Mitchell is older than John McCain and probably has one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. He is part Arab, which gets him some street cred in the arab capitals, but what is of much more significance to those who care for Israel is not his arab mother, but this purpose and pedigree. The democratic party has this belief that what is most important is process in the middle east. If there is just a process, then diplomacy will work, and the lion will lie with the lamb. The bush administration had no process, hence no progress. Forget about the ideals of a Hamas or the needs of Israeli deterrence against Iran’s proxy war, let’s do process. Let’s elevate the process to supreme importance and you get to Camp David and a Nobel prize.
The problem for Israel is that the Palestinians, unlike their other arab brethren (who actually can make a deal divorced from primitive hatred), don’t do process. They do falafel, they do suicide bombing, they do not do process. Israel does process because it is hard wired in the jewish brain that the way to make a deal over anything is to negotiate. You do not agree to our demands, well here is a better offer, and rinse and repeat. The Palestinians are hard wired to make a demand and then shoot and bomb when the demand is not met, and rinse and repeat.
Process does not work with immature entities such as the palestinians, especially under Hamas. The Mitchell Report, which was a fact finding mission to determine who caused the outbreak of random violence in Israel after, gasp, Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, is a delight to read at http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/pal/mitchell1.htm#WHAT. It is like investigating a preschool fight and recommending that all sides sit down and negotiate a sharing arrangement for the GI Joe action figure that caused the problem and that the process should entail confidence building measures and a return to core principles. Horsefeathers.
The faithfulness to process over substance is debilitating for Israel. Israel is the one usually blamed when the process dies, because it is always the one who is asked to make the last concession and cannot. Camp David in 2001 was an extreme exception in that some blame actually fell on the palestinians for walking away from the process, but in reality, the deal offered at camp david was not realistic.
In any event, you are going to see alot of Obama’s and Clinton’s political capital invested in george mitchell flying his bony ass all around the middle east. Oh, and by the way, for the process to even get off the ground, hamas is going to be a party. There is no process if they are not. So as Mitchell spins his wheels and the process is not showing results, Israel will be fingered. Why can’t israel open access to gaza, they will ask. Oh, Israel needs to be protected from rocket fire by Iranian proxy, OK, we can have international monitors in Gaza. Now the monitors go in, and guess what, rockets are fired anyways. Israel closes gaza, and the process was ruined.
Instead of process, Obama should be applying pressure. If Abbas wants US recognition and support, he has to clean house in gaza. Israel is going to have to live with international observers, but someone in the arab world is going to have to step forward to tell the friggin persians to leave gaza alone. Obama could figure this out, but it would not be diplomacy it would be america flexing its nuts. That was tried the last 8 years, and the left did not like it. It got us an empire but left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.