It looks like Obama has adopted the annoyed schoolteacher approach to peacemaking,
US President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday that he was dissatisfied with their recent foot-dragging on getting Israeli-Palestinian talks restarted.
A senior White House source yesterday told Haaretz that “during the tripartite meeting Obama strongly expressed his impatience.”
The source said the meeting was “businesslike” but not cordial. Netanyahu and Abbas voiced their opinions but did not attack.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, National Security Adviser Uzi Arad and Netanyahu adviser Yitzhak Molcho also attended the 45-minute meeting. The American side included U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, envoy George Mitchell, U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones and Obama adviser Dennis Ross.
Obama scolded Netanyahu and Abbas. “We’ve had enough talks,” Obama said. “We need to end this conflict. There is a window of opportunity but it might shut.”
Obama made it clear during the meeting that he was interested in resuming the negotiations between the sides “about all outstanding issues” based on the talks and signed agreements since the beginning of the Oslo process 16 years ago.
“There’s an historical record of the entire past negotiations and there are principles,” he said.
“We won’t start the negotiations from scratch, we will not take the historical record and toss it aside. Nor will we wait for the perfect formula.”
He also said: “It’s difficult to disentangle ourselves from history but we must do so. The only reason to hold public office is to get things done. We all must take risks for peace.”
“We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back,” Obama told reporters as he sat down for the meeting.
“Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency.”
The U.S. president said both sides must get formal peace negotiations back on track. “Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations,” Obama said. “It is time to move forward… Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon.”
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
11:26PM: Here is what US President Barack Obama had to say about Middle East peace in his speech to the UN General Assembly.
For his part, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the speech:
“I commend this important speech of Obama’s and his call to renew the peace process without preconditions. I commend his unequivocal support of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” he said.
Not so former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton.
11:00PM: Ynetnews reports:
Egypt’s culture minister on Wednesday blamed a conspiracy “cooked up in New York” by the world’s Jews for keeping him from becoming the next head of the UN’s agency for culture and education.
Farouk Hosny was defeated on Tuesday by Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova in a tight race for the position of UNESCO chair.
“It was clear by the end of the competition that there was a conspiracy against me,” Hosny told reporters at the airport upon his return from Paris.
“There are a group of the world’s Jews who had a major influence in the elections who were a serious threat to Egypt taking this position,” he said.
Yep. His defeat sounds like a real loss for culture and education.
7:00PM: David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee, writes of the Goldstone report’s “three strikes.”
In fact, Mary Robinson, who, as a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wasn’t exactly known for her warm disposition toward Israel, turned down an offer to lead the Council’s investigation.
“Unfortunately, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution seeking a fact-finding mission to only look at what Israel has done, and I don’t think that’s a human rights approach,” Robinson said in March.
3:50PM: Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, CNN interview Sept 22, 2009:
I think what is important is that we’re moving on to talk peace. And I hope to make peace.
Any time we have encountered an Arab leader who wanted to make peace, we made peace. [Egypt’s] Anwar Sadat came. Menachem Begin of the Likud made peace.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in a letter to UN Security Council:
“Israel’s nuclear capabilities cannot evade world attention.”
Ain’t peace grand?
2:45PM: Today’s ‘Duh’ moment is brought to us by Israel’s Foreign Minister, courtesy of the Jerusalem Post.
11:45AM: Anti-Israeli blogger Richard Silverstein has been caught lying again.
By yours truly.
6:00AM: Welcome to Gaza, the world’s only “concentration camp” with coffee shops containing flat screen televisions
Palestinian watches US President Barack Obama, left, meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on TV in a coffee shop in Gaza City, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders shook hands at the start of their first face-to-face meeting Tuesday, hosted by Obama, but the small gesture was unlikely to translate into a quick resumption of peace talks. Netanyahu and Abbas remain far apart on key issues, including Israeli settlement expansion and the agenda of future talks. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
5:48AM: Say what you want about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The man can speak.