December 6, 2011 | Quote

Panetta’s Antagonistic Speech on Israel

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense for Democracies wasn’t all that surprised by another round of heavy-handed public lecturing from the Obama team. He told me, “The complete lack of progress in Middle East diplomacy has been a black eye for this administration. They need movement, and they know they can’t prod Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] to do a thing. He is intransigent and belligerent, but the administration needs him to counter Hamas. With no leverage to push the Palestinians, coupled with an apparent lack of interest to push them, the fallback is to squeeze the Israelis.” Moreover, Panetta once again confirmed how distorted is the lens by which the Obama team views events in the region. Schanzer explained, “The notion that the Israelis must bear the responsibility for a failure to generate results at the negotiating table amidst an Iranian nuclear drive and a rash of new Islamist governments on Israel’s doorstep, particularly while Abu Mazen spurns the U.S.-led Oslo process by going unilateral at the U.N., reveals a severe and ongoing analytical deficit on the part of this administration.” Or simply bad faith.