By Benjamin Villanti*
By Benjamin Villanti*
Morocco World News
New York, September 27, 2011
In his article entitled, “Obama, Palestine and the Arabs,” published in Saturday’s issue of the Spanish daily El Pais, Javier Valenzuela described much of the world’s frustration and disappointment with President Obama over the events that transpired last week at the United Nations.
For the author, Obama revealed himself as “just another politician.” This came as a great disappointment for many people worldwide who once believed the President’s calls about changing social injustice. In opposing the Palestinian application to join the United Nations, Obama acted as a sophist, one who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments. According to Valenzuela, Obama’s insistence that before the Palestinians can apply for international recognition as a state they must negotiate with Israel was an “insult to universal intelligence” after twenty years of languishing talks.
Valenzuela referred to the various forms negotiations have taken, yet still have proven ineffective: “Mediators, special envoys, quartets, summits, formulas, public and secret negotiations, direct and indirect talks.”
Meanwhile, not only has the occupation continued but so does the expropriation of land and construction of new settlements, in which there are now more than 500,000 Israeli settlers. The result is that checkpoints and settlements throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank create a “nightmare of labyrinths” for Palestinians that make it impossible to create a viable state. As for Gaza, according to the author, it has all been forgotten, which he compared to an outcast leper colony.
“Two can not dance if one does not want to, and the strategy of Israel is transparent and effective,” Valenzuela stated. According to the author Israel uses negotiations as a pretext to provide time to expand settlements and undermine any possible negotiated solution. It is a great irony to Valenzuela that the Israelis can claim that Abbas’s request for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN is irrelevant, when the legitimacy of Israel was based on General Assembly Resolution 181 that partitioned British Mandated Palestine to establish their state.
Valenzuela noted that everyone realizes why Obama has opposed the Palestinian application; because of domestic political pressures, though, according to the author, the “recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize” could have been more “subtle” in revealing this. Referring to the US and Israeli argument that the Palestinian initiative is unilateral and counterproductive, Valenzuela cited the point made by a colleague writing in El Pais the day before. Abbas’s initiative going before the UN “could not be more pacifist, legal and multilateral,” he stated.
The author noted how the Palestinians have offered to Israel as much as is possible, having lost 78% of their land in 1947 and 1948. In addition, the PLA has recognized Israel’s right to exist since 1988, and the Arab League in 2002 offered to do the same if a Palestinian state was established based on the pre-1967 borders.
President Obama’s speech last week at the UN, moreover, erased all of the “positive effects” that his 2009 Cairo speech had on the Arab world, which included stating, “It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. They endure the daily humiliations that come with occupation. The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” Valenzuela noted that during his speech Wednesday, Obama could not even bring himself to repeat his previous assertions about freezing settlements or that the basis of a Palestinian state should be the 1967 borders.
Valenzuela even pointed out the irony that it was Obama himself who first had the idea that Palestine would become a new UN member state this September, when the US President stated this goal the year before at the General Assembly.
For the author there is no contradiction in accepting Palestinian membership to the UN and then working out the details on issues like borders, especially when twenty years of talks have not proved fruitful.
To conclude, Valenzuela noted that before Obama converted to “just another politician,” the President had “dreamed that the United States would form a more balanced relationship with the Middle East.” After the past week, however, the relationship between the United States and Arab world had only grown further apart.
*Benjamin Villanti is Morocco World News’ editor and contributor.
Editing by Samir Bennis