Mideast Peace: Search and Rescue

The coalition guidelines Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to Knesset on Wednesday revealed more by what they did not say that what they told about where he wants to lead his newly minted right wing government diplomatically.

The guidelines offered only vague language about peace and made no mention of the two-state approach or any new diplomatic vision or peace initiatives for the Netanyahu's fourth term.

Instead it offered what the Jerusalem Post defined as "a rather anemic clause" declaring:

 “the government will move the diplomatic process forward and strive for a peace agreement with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors, while preserving the security, historic, and national interests of Israel.”

It was reassuring for those who believed Netanyahu's election eve vow to make sure there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, and discouraging for those who took him at his word when he tried to take back that vow right after the election.

This comes against a background of the Vatican's announcement this week of diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine and increasingly heated tensions between Israel and France.

The French are shopping around a resolution they plan to take to the Security Council later this year in an effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. According to Haaretz:

The resolution is expected to call for basing the borders of the Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with territorial exchanges, making Jerusalem the capital of both states, some formulation that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, setting a timetable for finishing negotiations and the convening of an international peace conference.

The Obama administration has pressed the French to delay any action until conclusion of the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Similar resolutions by the French and the Palestinians have been blocked by the Americans in the past on the grounds that the best route to peace is direct negotiations between the parties themselves and not by UN resolutions.

The Israeli government is worried that this time the White House may not want to stop the resolution because President Obama was not persuaded by Netanyahu's feeble post-election effort to walk back his vow to oppose Palestinian statehood during his tenure.

The administration has adopted a wait-and-see approach.

Following his 2009 Bar Ilan University speech supporting the two-state solution, Netanyahu did nothing to implement it and never sought support for that position from his Likud Party nor his cabinet. 

The Jerusalem Post predicted that in the coming months "Netanyahu will give an updated version of his Bar Ilan speech."

But will anyone inside or outside of Israel believe him?

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.