Friday, September 23, 2011

Abbas asks for Palestinian Statehood; Clinton Disses Bibi The Peacenik

First-time listeners of Bibi Netanyahu today would have thought he was a dove carrying an olive branch to his unfortunate Arab brothers.

"Now we’re in the same city, we’re in the same building, so let’s meet here today in the United Nations,” Netanyahu said, in an eye-rolling plea to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sit down to talks. "With God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace."

Predictably, and in concert with an Obama administration that fears it will lose needed Jewish voters next year, Netanyahu appeared before the United Nations General Assembly not as the powerful hawk he has been for an entire career, but rather a somewhat broken isolated leader who is watching his only Muslim allies shake their heads at his failings.

Even former President Bill Clinton is warning the world that Netanyahu is not an honest broker when it comes to peace with the Palestinians. 

For those of us who more than a decade ago covered the Camp David II, Wye River and Sharm El Sheikh peace talks and follow Middle Eastern Affairs for the sheer love of the story and the region, that is not news, but it is timely.

And for The Big Dog, who knows first-hand how Netanyahu does business, the timing is no accident. 

On the eve of Netayahu's bluster-filled at the United Nations, Clinton undermined with random precision the right-wing Israeli leader's attempt to paint himself as a genuine Israeli peacemaker of the ilk of Menachem Begin or Yitzhak Rabin.

"The Israelis always wanted two things that once it turned out they had, it didn't seem so appealing to Mr. Netanyahu. They wanted to believe they had a partner for peace in a Palestinian government, and there's no question -- and the Netanyahu government has said -- that this is the finest Palestinian government they've ever had in the West Bank," Clinton said, according to Foreign Policy magazine's blogger, Josh Rogin.

"[Palestinian leaders] have explicity said on more than one occasion that if [Netanyahu] put up the deal that was offered to them before -- my deal -- that they would take it," Clinton said of the 2000 Camp David II accord rejected by Yasser Arafat.

Abbas, meanwhile, presented his letter today to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, requesting statehood for Palestine. 

"At a time when the Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy – the Arab Spring – the time has come for the Palestinian Spring, the time for independence," Abbas told the UN General Assembly, much of which gave the Palestinian leader a standing ovation.

Here is a full transcript of Netanyahu's remarks.

Here is a full transcript of Abbas's remarks

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