Not Sure Anyone Is Coming to Washington So Fast
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Looks like Secretary Kerry may have spoken to quickly. He should have learned from Secretaries Kissinger, Baker, Schultz, and Ambassador Ross and his team, nothing is done until it is really done between Israel and her neighbors. Just when you think you have an agreement, there are more conditions and understandings and clarifications needed. At this moment, it seems that Kerry will be able to spend more time with his wife as she recuperates than he will be opening Washington talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu could go to Washington if he wants, because the internal political dissenters will carry their fight just so far. They know Bibi could govern without them. In fact, he could lose the right flank of his own Likud Party and still govern; of course he would need to bring in the haredim to make the coalition viable! Bottom line is that it is not clear how far out front Bibi himself wants to go, although none of the admittedly unreasonable roadblocks now emerging from Abbas, present anything which will endanger Israel’s safety and security. Bibi just wants to placate Kerry, but does not want to call the PA’s bluff.
As for the Palestinians, Abbas cannot agree to a meeting. He can make the overture but he cannot begin even the first movement. The original Arab League endorsement was met with skepticism by his own Palestinian Council. Now the Arab League says they will support whatever Abbas decides including a demand that the new conditions be met by the Israelis. Abbas may want to make a deal but the Abbas family wants him to come home for dinner—alive. The Council and especially Hamas now will not countenance even a meeting without pre-conditions. At the moment it is not totally even clear what the people in the street want.
Since the excitement of Friday it has been decidedly downhill in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Both sides have issues and both leaders appear unable to surmount their problems. If they do not receive one more very quick push from Washington, this meeting will also be a non-starter. If Kerry waits too long it will be Labor Day, the Jewish High Holidays and then the U.N. session. The bottom line is that Bibi could make a deal if he wanted to and Abbas may want to make a deal but is afraid to do so.