Henry Kissinger made Mideast "shuttle diplomacy" famous in the 1970s. The peripatetic Sec. of State then jetted back and forth between Israel and Egypt and fashioned an uneasy cease-fire in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
President Obama has added a new twist to shuttle diplomacy. It seems whenever Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the air en route to Washington, the Commander-in-Chief chooses that time to apply the screws to Israel's democratic government.
Three years ago, Mr. Obama made a major pronouncement: Israel should return to the pre-1967 borders as a basis for negotiating with the Arabs. He delivered these prepared remarks while Netanyahu was still in the air. Once Netanyahu came down to earth, he politely but firmly took the President to school on Mid Eastern affairs. Sitting in the Oval Office, and before live TV cameras, the Prime Minister noted that Israel could never return to those indefensible borders and remain a viable country.
Netanyahu was too diplomatic to use the phrase made famous by the late Abba Eban. The lines that existed prior to the Six Day War in 1967 were "Auschwitz borders." But he made his point.
The White House quickly backpedaled. The president meant, of course, those pre-1967 borders "with appropriate territorial swaps" with the Arabs of Palestine. It would all be agreed upon. No pressure, Israel. Don't feel pushed.
This time, President Obama sat for an interview with Bloomberg View correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg while Netanyahu was jetting westward. Previewing their forthcoming talks in the White House, the President said he would warn the Prime Minister that "time is running out." He saw fit to quote the Jewish sage, Hillel: "If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, who?"
The time is running out for Israel to give over to the PLO major portions of the West Bank of the Jordan River, an area known for millennia as Judea and Samaria. The President will not suggest surrendering Judea and Samaria to the PLO, of course.
Too many Americans remember that the Palestinian Liberation Organization led for decades on the U.S. State Department's list of international terrorist organizations. The late Yassir Arafat, the PLO Chairman, was the inventor of airline hijacking for terror purposes. Britain's leftwing Guardian has noted that Arafat's loyal lieutenant, Abu Daoud, organized the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded him in 1994 despite his orders to his gunmen in Khartoum in the Sudan in 1973. "Execute the diplomats," Arafat said then. U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel was among those brutally murdered.
No, the President will refer to Israel's negotiating partners as the Palestinian Authority. The PLO morphed into the PA twenty years ago in order to qualify for U.S. and EU recognition. And with that recognition came billions of dollars and Euros in foreign aid.
Much of that aid wound up in the Swiss bank accounts of Arafat and his PLO cronies.
Since the death of Arafat in 2004, the PA has been headed by Mahmoud Abbas. He holds a Ph.D. from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, during the Soviet era, where his dissertation expressed the view that Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis. Thus, Abbas is effectively one of the leading Holocaust deniers in the world.
Abbas is routinely referred to in Western media as "leader" of the Palestinian Authority. But since 2006, when the overtly terrorist group, Hamas, won an election in the Gaza Strip, Abbas has indefinitely postponed scheduled elections in PA-controlled areas. He is, therefore, the leader of an Authority without authority.
President Obama wants Benjamin Netanyahu to yield strategic territory to Abbas, who could not guarantee compliance with any signed agreement. Start with the PLO pledge to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease "incitement" of the Arab masses to murder of the Jews. The PA actually names public squares for suicide bombers and teaches school children to model suicide vests. PA maps of Palestine show no territory for Israel.
In those areas that would be ceded to the PA, Abbas assures the world, no Jews would be permitted to live. We've seen this movie before. The Nazis sought to rid Poland and Ukraine of Jews, calling for those regions to be Judenrein-lands free of Jews.
Abbas' friends in the PA-administered territories greeted the collapse of the flaming Twin Towers on September 11th with dancing in the streets. They fired their Soviet-supplied rifles into the air in celebration. They gave candy to their children.
It is by no means clear why any American should want to deal with the PLO, much less the American President. Or try to put pressure on Israel's democratically legitimated government to yield to this gang of not-quite-reformed terrorists. They are inveterate enemies of the United States.
The President is obviously feeling second term pressures. He wants to be that "transformational President" that he promised his voters he would be. When he says, "time is running out," he's right.
President has just 1029 days left in office. The Jews have been in Judea and Samaria for six thousand years.