Jim Jones Makes Peace With Israel, Calls for Direct Talks With Palestinians…
While the entire Mideast-centric wing of the foreign-policy community waits to see if the Obama administration will actually offer its own plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an independent Palestinian state — to say nothing of the bated breath in Mideast capitals — Jim Jones, President Obama’s national security adviser, sounded warm, soothing tones last night about the U.S.-Israel relationship to a leading pro-Israel group, the center-right Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“There has been a lot of distortion and misrepresentation of our policy recently,” Jones said, getting that out of the way. “We will never forget that since the first minutes of Israeli independence, the United States has had a special relationship with Israel. And that will not change.” And he continued on in that vein. It even got subtle: As Israel tries to rebrand itself as a tech-centric “start-up nation,” Jones said the U.S.-Israel bonds were “the bonds of pioneers in science, technology and so many fields where we cooperate every day.”
Bona fides affirmed, Jones’ speech attempted to thread several needles: convincing Israel and its American advocates that taking risks for a two-state solution right now is in both the Israeli and American interest; that the U.S. is about to take action on Israel’s enemy, Iran, and so Israel needs to reciprocate on the peace process; and that the Obama administration’s broader national security strategy — ensuring nations fulfill their international obligations and uphold the rights of their citizens as the key to global security, prosperity and dignity — is inextricably tied to Mideast peace. “We recognize that peace must be made by the parties and cannot be imposed from the outside,” Jones said, echoing a recent formulation of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “At the same time, we understand that the status quo is not sustainable.” He called for the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — pointedly eliding the indirect talks the administration has for weeks tried to use as a bridge to direct talks:
So it is time to begin those negotiations and to put an end to excuses. It is time for all leaders in the region—Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab—to support efforts for peace. It is time for today’s leader to demonstrate the courage and leadership of Anwar Sadat, King Hussein, and Yitzhak Rabin.
That looks like the Fierce Urgency of Now again. Jones left hanging in the air the prospect of an Obama peace plan — he didn’t touch on the idea at all — but the thrust of his speech was about the need for concerted and immediate action on peace. The vectors point in the direction of such an Obama peace plan if those talks don’t get underway, and Jones closed by emphasizing that the Obama administration isn’t going to relent on Mideast peace: “This is the work we will continue to pursue in the months and years ahead… not only for the sake of America’s security, but for the world’s.”