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Chomsky: What Obama Didn’t Say in His Cairo Address Speaks Volumes About His Mideast Policy

From Alternet

By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet.

Noam_chomsky_cropped

The U.S. has played a decisive role in sustaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change.

A CNN headline, reporting Obama’s plans for his June 4 address in Cairo, Egypt, reads “Obama looks to reach the soul of the Muslim world.” Perhaps that captures his intent, but more significant is the content hidden in the rhetorical stance, or more accurately, omitted.

Keeping just to Israel-Palestine — there was nothing substantive about anything else — Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to “point fingers” at each other or to “see this conflict only from one side or the other.”

There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.

Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.

Obama once again praised the Arab Peace Initiative, saying only that Arabs should see it as “an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.” How should the Obama administration see it?

Obama and his advisers are surely aware that the initiative reiterates the longstanding international consensus calling for a two-state settlement on the international (pre-June 1967) border, perhaps with “minor and mutual modifications,” to borrow U.S. government usage before it departed sharply from world opinion in the 1970s. That’s when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by the Arab “confrontation states” (Egypt, Iran, Syria), and tacitly by the PLO, with the same essential content as the Arab Peace Initiative, except that the latter goes beyond by calling on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in the context of this political deal.

Obama has called on the Arab states to proceed with normalization, studiously ignoring, however, the crucial political settlement that is its precondition. The initiative cannot be a “beginning” if the U.S. continues to refuse to accept its core principles, even to acknowledge them.

In the background is the Obama administration’s goal, enunciated most clearly by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to forge an alliance of Israel and the “moderate” Arab states against Iran. The term “moderate” has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands.

What is Israel to do in return for Arab steps to normalize relations? The strongest position so far enunciated by the Obama administration is that Israel should conform to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, which states: “Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).” All sides claim to accept the Road Map, overlooking the fact that Israel instantly added 14 reservations that render it inoperable.

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