Romney’s big break on U.S. Israel policy (Did Adelson get his wish?)


Most of the discussion of Mitt Romney’s speech to donors in Boca Raton, Fla., has understandably focused on his suggestion that 47 percent of Americans are going to vote for President Obama "no matter what" because they are "dependent upon government" and believe "that they are victims."

But he also made some big news with the approach that he articulated to policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. Romney broke not only with the current administration’s approach, but also with previous Democratic and Republican administrations that have kept the U.S. actively involved in trying to advance the peace process.

As JTA reported:


Mitt Romney told fundraisers in a private meeting that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "unsolvable" and that his strategy would be to "kick the ball down the field."

"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, ‘There’s just no way,’ " Romney said at a May 17 fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., hosted by Marc Leder, a private equity manager.

As Politico noted, Romney did not wholly close the door on the possibility of Israeli-Palestinian peace, at least at some point in the future. In a section of the video of his remarks that was not initially released by Mother Jones magazine, Romney added:

But I always keep open: the idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world. We have done that time and time and time again. It does not work. So the only answer is show them strength. American strength, American resolve, and the Palestinians will some day reach the point where they want peace more than we’re trying to force peace on them. Then it’s worth having the discussion. So until then, it’s just wistful thinking.

Romney’s view on the futility of pushing for a peace accord under present circumstances is one that resonates with some conservatives. Commentary’s Seth Mandel wrote that "Romney appears to have a thoughtful and realistic, if gloomy, opinion."

In August, The Daily Beast reported that GOP super-donor Sheldon Adelson had "asked Romney to state publicly that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are a waste of time because the Palestinians are unwilling to make peace, according to the sources."

While The Daily Beast reported that Romney had resisted this an other Mideast-related requests from Adelson. Well, now Romney has semi-publicly suggested that the peace process is a waste of time, citing the very argument that Adelson apparently made.

Still, it’s not only conservatives who are bearish about prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough in the immediate future. Former U.S. diplomat and peace process veteran Aaron David Miller has been sounding gloomy notes for some time now on this issue.

"To me, the idea that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement may not be possible is simply an acknowledgement of reality," Miller told The Huffington Post. "In my view, the emperor has been seen to have no clothes on this issue for quite a number of years."

But Dennis Ross, a fellow veteran peace-processor and a former senior Mideast adviser to President Obama, told The Huffington Post: "If you basically just say it’s all hopeless, you just make hopelessness a self-fulfilling prophecy."

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