A writer in the Times of London published an article over the weekend asserting that President-Elect Obama has already decided to “throw his support behind a… Saudi peace initiative” which offers Israel peace for her full retreat behind the 1967 borders; the article also cited a “senior Obama adviser” as saying that when he visited with PA President Abbas in June, Mr. Obama said Israel “would be crazy” to refuse a deal that would give them peace with the Muslim world.”
As even those with a record of Obama-skepticism acknowledge, this Times writer has a history of writing false stories.
Nonetheless, the Obama camp has put out a statement from Dennis Ross – who was actually present for the Obama-Abbas meeting – denying this report.
Now, intelligent readers should put this incident together with last week’s incident in which Obama advisers were alleged to have met and made plans with Hamas and reach a reasonable conclusion: There’s going to be a lot of flat out nonsense put out there, especially during the Transition period, and reports – especially from foreign media who have little understanding of what a U.S. presidential transition is like (overwhelmingly busy trying to fill thousands of Executive Branch posts) and little access to real information from the Transition Team – ought to be read skeptically.
To be sure, the Obama team is preparing proposals for how the new Administration will address the Israeli-Arab conflict. Just as certain, however, is that the top foreign policy concerns consuming the planning team’s time are America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combating Al Qaeda in Pakistan, and thwarting Iran’s nuclear threat… and all of these are taking a second seat to the American economic meltdown… and, the American people agree.
Finally, the Obama team surely realizes that while they might have ideas about what they might do on the Israeli-Arab track, nothing can be solidified until they know which person will be sitting in the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem – deferring this matter further.
In sum, those – for noble or nefarious reasons – who place U.S. policy toward Israel at the center of the political universe ought to realize that right now, it is not at the center of the political universe.