An Insider’s View of Israeli Diplomacy
Dore Gold at the Hudson Institute, November 27, 2018
Walter Russell Mead: Is there a sense in Israel that progress on relations with the Palestinians is still necessary to develop these Arab relations or is there a sense that the common interest between Israelis and Arabs are enough now that the Palestinian issue is of lesser importance in regional diplomacy?
Dore Gold: It’s an excellent question because I get asked by my countrymen, Does Abu Mazen want peace?
And frankly, anyone who follows his behavior over the last period of time has to reach the conclusion that there is a big problem here. I mean just think of the last time there was a initiative by the Obama administration when Secretary Kerry was spending an amazing amount of time running between Ramallah and Jerusalem and with the moment of truth March 17th in the Oval Office. There had been a proposal on the table that the administration had worked out and that proposal was based on working rules that you could accept the American proposal, but you had the right to have reservations about certain parts. It’s an interesting diplomatic approach. So you could say I accept your proposal but I don’t like clause 7 and clause 13. It gets you further than you are now. So Israel gave a positive answer with its reservations. So President Obama turns to Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office and says well, so what’s your answer? And the famous words that still stick with those who follow Middle East peacemaking, he said, I’ll get back to you, and guess what, he never did. So that raised the question about, well, does he really want a deal? And he’s going to have to do a lot of work to convince people that he is in the deal-making business because his last encounter with us was very negative and, by the way, that isn’t much different than what Prime Minister Olmert went through and what Prime Minister Ehud Barak went through in the past. So we sort of get these reruns every couple of years when somebody gets inspired to enter Arab-Israeli peacemaking.