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Obama commits to 2 state solution in I/P conflict

lizpolaris's picture

President Obama visited the State Dept today, shortly after Secy Clinton had arrived to address the State Dept diplomats, to announce the new Mideast and Afghanistan/Pakistan envoys. I must say it's refreshing to hear adults in charge of the government speaking again. (And given the circumstances, Pres Obama skipped the preacher cadence during his talk entirely. Can we hope that inflection is gone for good from him?)

In reports on this announcement, I'm not seeing much emphasis on what I thought I heard as the most significant part of Obama's speech today at the State Dept.

Here's a link to a video of the 2nd half of the speech.

Listen carefully at 0:46 and beyond. He says:

Lasting peace requires more than a long ceasefire. That's why I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.

Correct me if I'm wrong but that's quite a change in our US policy, isn't it? I didn't think that the US had decided that endorsing a Palestinian state was the way to go. But those sentences sound very clear. Mitchell, the new mideast envoy, is to go to Egypt, Jordan, Israel, etc. and advocate for a separate Palestinian authority.

Am I reading too much into this or is the 'news media' missing the real headline again?

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a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

The US has backed a 2-state solution in principle at least as far back as The Handshake, I believe.

gharlane's picture
Submitted by gharlane on

We've given it lip service, though.

The Camp David and Taba proposals were doomed to fail, and Clinton and Barak together blamed Arafat after Clinton specifically promised that wouldn't happen.

Don't have the links handy, but Robert Malley and Hussein Agha have written extensively on this in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. The Google (me, I prefer the Scroogle Scraper) should help.

Bush certainly gave a lot of lip service to "two states, side by side, peace and security, blah blah" but he of course did f*ck-all to get that to happen.

I'm in substantial agreement with Damon's comment below that the 2-state solution, at least as currently posited, is, er, problematic. Personally I think the person who is thinking the most creatively and (God strike me down for writing this) out-of-the-box(ly?) on this topic is Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions (ICAHD).

The proposal he outlines has the potential for solving two of the most thorny problems: Israel's "demographic concerns" (i.e. the fear, whether you think it's paranoid or not) that a Palestinian majority in a one-state scenario in all of Mandate Palestine would, so to speak, "vote the Jews into the sea"), and Palestinians' desire for a serious Right of Return (which triggers the Israeli "voting us into the sea" fears).

Read about it here. I think the website will ask you for some demographic info when you first visit. Just lie to them if you don't want them to know about you. It's not a subscription, though -- no money need change hands.

Submitted by jawbone on

settlements in the West Bank, the original Palestine land?

Right now, a two state solution give the Israelis an actual state and the Palestinians get bantustans. There's also the matter of natural gas (even oil finds now?) off the coast, including coast of Gaza.

Huge sticking points.

But, yes, the language and tone is a huge improvement. Indeed. But recall that BushCo said it was for a two state solution, as did Clinton. However, there were all those settlements which Israel does not want to give up--and now there are even more. Very sticky situation.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

This isn't a change, at all, nor is the tone. Bush and Condi had been pushing hard, contrary to a lot of popular belief, the same two-state solution Clinton backed. It got less coverage because of their other distracting world problems.

On the surface, the two-state plan sounds good, but under the surface, I don't believe it to be a sustainable solution. Anything short of a multi-ethnic, plural democracy in the Levant won't be fair. As Jawbone brought up, Israel ends up getting all of the good land (almost all of the coast, better farmland), the Palestinian the rougher, tougher geography. This is not even to mention the non-contiguity of the proposed Palestinian state which presents its own major problems, and Egypt won't take Gaza nor, should it.

We're going down the same road, again, hoping for a different result.

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

I haven't followed the details of this issue. So many threads in the blogosphere devolve into nonsense on this topic, I usually don't even read them.

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

The two that were mentioned, George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, are long time Clinton affiliates. Holbrooke was on her campaign's foreign policy team and is very well respected. Mitchell was considered for a Supreme Court position by the Big Dawg himself. Furthermore, the State department is going to be be putting out fires all over the world and there will be a strong economic component to the Secretary's job this term. So, I approve of the way Clinton is delegating these responsibilities to Mitchell and Holbrooke. Better to recognize that these areas of the world deserve vigorous attention at the start. It will make Obama's job easier in the end.
Damn, he always comes out smelling like a fricking rose on all of this, doesn't he?