23 03 2014

Holding placards with the Pollard's picture, right-wing activists protest for his release.  https://i0.wp.com/i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02029/ma_2029365c.jpg

Will Obama trade Jonathan Pollard for Marwan Barghouti in order to keep the “Middle East Peace Process” alive?

If Obama were to make such a deal it would be a great boost for Mahmoud Abbas, the struggling not fully legitimate head of the “Palestinian Authority”.  In return Abbas would have to agree to continue the “Peace Process” and not to proceed with further international recognition efforts.  But even more significantly, if Barghouti were to join Abbas in negotiations with the Israelis it would be much easier for Abbas and his Fatah to make the concessions being demanded by the Americans who are themselves largely fronting for the “liberal” Israelis and Dem Party American Jews who are themselves so desperate for some kind of “Two-State Solution”….no matter how inadequate or pregnant with future upheavals.

And getting Pollard would be a major plus for Bibi Netanyahu, quite possibly giving him the extra strength to realign Israeli politics to make some kind of deal with the US about the Palestinians…however likely it might unravel and/or backfire in the future when some other PM is in charge.   He can think back to deals made by Rabin and Sharon that won them so much applause…only to come apart years later.

For all three of these politicians are in need of short-term successes, especially a collective one that could at this point salvage some kind of “framework” agreement if Barghouti, the Palestinian Mandela so-to-speak, were to give his endorsement.

That’s a big IF of course, and the whole trade would be a considerable risky gambit, but even so this may be a deal whose time has come.   Barghouti could in fact play this role now that it is only a general “framework” agreement on the table  that would not force him to commit to specifics.  Moreover this whole scenario would position the populist Barghouti to take over from Abbas thus side-lining Dahlan and others, and thus potentially positioning the Palestinians to make some kind of deal either with a new a new Netanyahu coalition or the next Israeli government.

Of course if this entangling deal is made Obama won’t be publicly presenting it in this way.  The arrangement would have to be carefully politically scripted and visually choreographed behind the scenes.

Back to Bibi Netanyahu.  His calculations would go beyond these individuals and beyond the “Peace Process”.   He is positioning himself as Israel’s saving god-father, longest serving Prime Minister, the greatest leader since Ben-Gurion, and potentially some kind of deal-maker with the Palestinians a la the Rabin…so that myth goes.

Such historical gestures and myths are in fact the stuff of which legends and oftentimes history are made.   Plus especially for Netanyahu he will be further calculating the impact on what he wants to happen with Iran and  Syria as well as derivatively with Hezbollah, Hamas, and the “Arab Peace Inititative”.

All the politicians, including Obama, are desperate now for some kind of major success, but they are also calculating the potential risks and gains for the mid and longer term, at least the next few years when they are likely to still be in power.

IF Bibi calculates that playing ball with Obama by getting Pollard and giving Barghouti will strengthen him overall, including with regard to what is to come with Iran and Syria, he just might go for it!   And if Obama calculates that getting Barghouti to join Abbas gives him a chance of going down in history with a Middle East agreement, he has so little else and he just might go for it!   After all, look at the legacy of Carter, Sadat, Rabin and Clinton — all who made false and temporary agreements based on political calculations of their time, but who even today are applauded and celebrated, however wrongly, as what they did actually lead to more disasters and explosions…though very few are able to connect the historical dots properly at this point.