Obama Gets Talks With Israel And Palestine
After George Mitchell left the Middle East without making headway on a deal between Israel and Palestine, nobody expected this report the next day:
Surprise announcement from the White House: President Obama will host a trilateral meeting on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This meeting will be preceded by bilateral meetings between the president and the two leaders.
"These meetings will continue the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Special Envoy George Mitchell to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed."
The meeting comes in the context of the Goldstone report alleging war crimes committed by both sides but particularly Israel in the Gaza war. That cannot go unmentioned in these talks, although the White House is signaling that they prefer to look forward and not backward. At least they're consistent.
We believe this report should be discussed within the Human Rights Council, and we look forward to participating in that discussion. We will approach discussions on the report keeping in mind the underlying causes of the tragic events in Gaza earlier this year – the lack of a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and the attacks by Hamas against innocent civilians.
Our focus right now, as I’ve said before, is to get all sides to take steps to re-launch Israeli-Palestinian negotiations so we can end this conflict and the humanitarian suffering it has caused. We will move forward in discussions of the report while keeping that overriding goal at the forefront. We hope efforts related to the Middle East at the Human Rights Council and other international bodies will look to the future and how we can support the goal of a two-state solution.
The Goldstone report does complicate efforts and it's useless to ignore them. It provides a catalyst for the same grievances, which I'm sure both sides will use. It's the last thing anyone needed. In this context, getting a trilateral meeting at all is major progress.