zondag 12 december 2010

Thomas Friedman: US has bigger problems than Israel

NY Times' columnist to Israel, Palestinians: Don't take US support for granted; US should get out of picture so Netanyahu, Abbas can see better.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote yet another piece highly critical of Israel, the Palestinians and the peace process on Saturday. The renowned journalist and author who was once the Times correspondent in Jerusalem and Beirut, claims that the US has larger problems than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Friedman wrote, "They just don't get it: we're not their grandfather's America anymore. We have bigger problems." He listed budget cuts to local fire departments, schools and education, local government spending and stimulus spending in the US that "could be the worst in a generation."

The Times columnist listed the woes of the US economy in order to slam Israel for not immediately accepting the incentives package Washington offered it in exchange for a three-month settlement freeze extension last month. He says to Israel: "When America, a country that has lavished billions on you over the last 50 years..." and "asks you to halt settlements for three months to get peace talks going, there is only one right answer, and it is not 'How much?' It is: 'Yes, whatever you want, because you’re our only true friend in the world.'”

To the Palestinians, Friedman is only slightly kinder. He derides Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not accepting the two-state deal offered to him by former prime minister Olmert, and now setting new conditions for negotiations. He warns the Palestinians that the Chinese will not put the same pressure on Israel to make peace as the Americans are, so they should take whatever opportunities are presented at the moment.

Additionally, the columnist acknowledges the domestic difficulties faced by both Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but claims that both are too comfortable with the status quo in order to change it. He declares, "There are no Abe Lincolns out there."

Friedman writes that the United States should disengage from the conflict so that "Israelis and Palestinians can see clearly, without any obstructions, what reckless choices their leaders are making."