Pres. Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly can be understood on several levels.
It was an excellent speech. All Obama’s speeches deserve A plus for form, but this one also deserves A plus for content, both for what it included and for what it left out. There was nary a word about 1967 borders or settlements or other divisive issues.
It was a tribute to the quietly strong stance of P.M. Netanyahu since the previous speech at the State Department, the confrontation in the Oval Office, and the triumph before both houses of Congress.
An experienced negotiator presses the side he thinks is more likely to give in. If that side retreats, he presses them even more. For many months Obama thought Israel was the side on which to exert pressure. Bibi proved him wrong. That is another way to regard the UN speech.
Obama wants to be reelected to a second terms as president. His “tough love” stance toward Israel along with the failure of the American economy to recover despite Obama’s initiatives, have put that ambition in danger. This speech is part of a rescue operation. No one should think it will go on forever.
In his first two years Obama tried to appease the Moslem world and the UN. It hasn’t worked and now he is shifting gears.
The US provides more of the funding for the UN than any other country. If the majority of UN members think it is their job to “stick it” to the US, Obama wants to remind them of “purse principles”.
Two groups were very unhappy with Obama’s speech, the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Leftists. Both feel betrayed. The difference is that the Israeli leftists are not burning American flags, while the Palestinian Arabs are.
The Friday UN speeches of Abu Mazen and Bibi were reminiscent of the definition of a dialogue: First you must define monologue, which is one man talking to himself. A dialogue is two people talking to themselves.
Each man spoke to his own audience; Bibi in English to the Israeli public and the world, Abu Mazen in Arabic to the Arabs and the pro-Arabs in the General Assembly.
Abu Mazen made it clear his goal is an Arab Palestinian State without making peace with Israel—no recognition, no demilitarization, continued demand for “return” of all Palestinian Refugees; the whole tamale. This played very well with the Palestinian Arabs and the General Assembly.
The best thing Abu Mazen could do for himself now is resign immediately as “the Father of his country” and leave others to pick up the pieces. His place in the Palestinian history books would be secure and in any event his term actually ended two years ago. But, don’t hold your breath.
Bibi spoke to a very different audience, the Israeli consensus. He repeated again and again that he was ready to negotiate immediately without preconditions. But even though he was physically standing before the General Assembly, there was no chance he could convince the great majority of them, whose minds were made up in advance.
There is no chance the Palestinian Arabs will come back to negotiate one on one, unless Israel surrenders to their demands in advance, and that will not happen. When they rejected the offers of Barak in 2000 and Olmert in 2008 they showed that they will never agree to anything any Israeli government can offer. They will continue to try to internationalize the conflict and so the stalemate will continue.
Due to Pres. Obama, Israel came out not badly from this week at the UN, but the conflict will go on.