Brzezinski: Obama's Mideast Speech Was Too 'Timid'

Friday, 20 May 2011 09:00 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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President Barack Obama’s Mideast speech was too “timid,” , says former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who adds that it cannot generate international support for the peace process. Brzezinski also said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that, left to themselves, the Israelis and the Palestinians will not resolve their decades-old issues.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama, Mideast
Zbigniew Brzezinski: "I approve of what the president did, but I wish he had gone further." (Getty Images Photo)
“I thought I heard a speech which was trying to initiate movement on the peace process — a peace process that is stalemated — but, a rather timid initiative in my mind, which as a result is not likely to mobilize the kind of support that is needed to move the process forward,” said Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser during the 1978 Camp David Accords that led to an Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

“I think if we are going to have peace in the Middle East, we have to face two basic realities — fundamental realities: First of all, the parties to the conflict, the Israelis and the Palestinians, will never resolve it by themselves — the differences between them are just not bridgeable by themselves,” Brzezinski said.

“Secondly, the issue in the Middle East is not just security for Israel, or rights for the Palestinians — it’s also fundamental American national interest — and that has to guide American policy.

“So, I approve of what the president did, but I wish he had gone further, because if he had, he would have been able to mobilize much more support from among the Israelis, the Palestinians and the international community,” he said.

Host Joe Scarborough asked what Obama should have said that would have advanced America’s interests more effectively. Brzezinski said the president should have addressed all the issues, “and not point to the ’67 frontiers as something that has to be the point of departure, which in fact it basically has to be.”

“But also indicate in what fashion some of the other issues have to be addressed — what is the balance between them,” he said. “The question, for example, of Jerusalem — in what manner can it be shared, so that the interest of both sides are preserved? How do you deal with the question of security — how do you provide security for Israel?

“For example: Perhaps NATO or American forces on the Jordan River, so that Israel feels secure, without wanting to occupy large pieces of Palestine,” Brzezinski said. “These are the kind of issues that have to be addressed head-on — and if the United States doesn’t do it, it won’t work. And we’ll just single out one point for emphasis — obviously there will be a lot of arguments and resentments against it.”

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