From last night’s “All-Stars.”
On President Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:
There were two new, important elements. One was overt and one was implied.
The new element that I think was stated openly was that, for the first time, Obama stated that his negotiations with Iran are not open- ended. He set not a deadline, but a timeline.
The timeline that he set openly was that if by the end of the year there is no indication of significant movement with Iran, it’s over, and he will turn to strong sanctions. And that’s new.
Secondly, they both implied that the negotiations will not be just between Israel and Palestinians. A two-way will become a three-way.
The premise here is that the Palestinians are too weak. Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, has no authority to negotiate. And Hamas, the other element among the Palestinians, is a war-making entity. It’s not going to make peace. So there is no real interlocutor that Israel has.
So what is going to happen is you will see Israel start to make small concessions. And the response will come from the Arab states, not in the form of sending ambassadors, but of gestures of warming of relations.
So they’re going to have, in essence, a dance between Israel and the Arab states, and the Palestinians, who are the weaker element here, are going to make small gestures.
But you’re going to see all of these things happening on the ground, gradually, but not in the way that we have envisioned them in the past as simply between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Obama’s speech at Notre Dame:
It’s a brilliant speech and a brilliant handling of this issue on which, as you show, Americans are so split.
Obama — other politicians have a way of fudging irreconcilable issues. Obama has a way of transcending them, hovering above them. As we saw in that byte, he sort of — he takes a sort of objective, outside, Socratic stance, in which he says I shall respect. Each side has its views. And he in a way almost mediates between them.
It’s a real sleight of hand, because, as a politician, especially on abortion, he isn’t only in one camp. He is about as partisan as you get. His views on abortion are about as radically anti-restrictionist as almost any American president.
And yet he presents himself — and I think in a brilliant way and politically a brilliant way, as evenhanded and objective. And in doing so, I think he won over young, moderate Catholics, which was his objective. And he succeeded I think extremely well in doing that.