Netanyahu's headache isn't Obama

It's the uber-Zionist religious settlers depicted in this Max Blumenthal video, who are Netanyahu's primary base of support.

It is reported that next week Netanyahu will deliver a speech to the nation about his peace policy. But if anyone expects to hear the magic words, "two states living side by side," a listening to Max Blumenthal's video of extremist supporters, should dash that prospect. However, in spite of years coddling religious settlers, talking up the Likud position: no Palestinian state, and using AIPAC to keep the US Congress in line while Israel continued its occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories, it is evident that it no longer works for America.

Stephen Zunes recently reviewed America's foreign policy concerning the occupied Palestinian territories since Carter. It is essentially the story of how America rubber stamped Israel's colonial policy administration after administration, which actively supported Israel's flouting of the Fourth Geneva Convention, blocked numerous anti-Israel Resolutions in the UN Security Council, and helped Israel ignore international law.

Zune's conclusion: America is as much to blame for creating the difficulty that Obama faces today in creating a Palestinian state as Israel ever was.  

Since Obama's election, we all knew that America will no longer support a South African style Apartheid solution to bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end than it could support the Serbian ethnic cleansing of Korsova in the 90s, repeat America's treatment of native Americans historically, or return to the era of Black slavery and segregation. Americans can no longer support an ally which engages in similar behavior. Obama is now playing hardball, unlike previous presidents who helped to create the situation we are now confronting. Click on Stephen Zune's article above if you do not believe that America is substantially at fault for the plight of the Palestinians.

Next week, George Mitchell will be back on the road, this time with an urgent call for Israel to set its borders. How else can we know where the Palestinian state begins and Israel ends?

More aspirin, Mr. Prime Minister?

Tags: Israel, Netanyahu, obama, Palestine (all tags)



Today's Haaretz

has Mitchell calling for "immediate" talks.

I think Bibi is caught between a rock[star] (Obama), and a bunch of hard places (the settlements).  My most optimistic view is that this will push his coalition to collapse.  Then we'll see how Israel chooses to respond to the reality with which Obama, Clinton, and Mitchell are dousing them.

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 05:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Caught the article: the pressure is mounting. We may have to wait until Netanyahu delivers his address to the nation to find out just where he is going with this.

Old polls suggest that a majority of Israelis support a Palestinian state, but it is never indicated what is meant by a Palestinian state. I'd really like to see more polling post the Obama Cairo speech to see how the Israeli public was affected. The last election indicated a righward movement of the public.

by MainStreet 2009-06-08 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Why elections necessarily, Strum?  

What if the coalition holds anyway, it's right flank still preferring the the devil it knows?  And even if coalition does fall, a recomposed coalition  seems more likely than election, no?

Curious to hear your thoughts.

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-08 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

That's my most optimistic perspective, though I don't think I wrote elections.  The coalition could indeed collapse and a new government could be formed that responds positively to the US full court press.  Not talking likelihood at all.  If likelihood, then I rank the possibilities from best to worst.

1. Bibi prolongs the stalemate.

2. New coalition with current Knesset that responds marginally better.

3. Elections.

This is based on nothing at all but my pessimism.  I can't even include the worst option: elections leading to a more intransigent rightest Knesset.  

Just my hunches.

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

1. is the likely scenario, since stalling and obfuscation has been a long used tactic of the Israeli government to forestall peace negotiations. Nothing was more typical of this tactic than Condi Rice's experience these last two years, when she was repeated snookered by the Olmert government. Condi, it should be mentioned, also made a speech in Cairo in which she said almost the same things regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, two states, that Obama did.

She was brushed aside, while Olmert continued to bluff Abbas, week after week over tea.

Will Obama, and Mitchell especially, get the same treatment?

by MainStreet 2009-06-08 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

I think the more pertinent question is what strategy Obama has up his sleeve to confront this and whether it will work.  He's a proven tactician and always thinks a few moves ahead.  What we've witnessed is his opening gambit.  It will also be interesting to see whether HRC's carefully burnished hawk credentials and Mitchell's reputation and aura from his Northern Ireland success will prove effective here.

So yes, I agree that this is what Bibi will attempt.  The question is what Obama has planned in response and whether it will prove effective.

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

It is just an opionion, but I don't think Obama will go nuclear off the bat with a halting of US funding to Israel, in spite of the fact that Netanyahu will likely continue the settlement enhancements, the "natural growth" he claims is necessary.

It will all come under the heading of "managed conflict," a term Jeff Halper introduced to project to the future of Israeli peace negotiations. All the Israeli government can hope for is some distracting event that will push this issue into the background. Hate to say it, but in a Haaretz article, Netanyahu said that it will be up to Israel to take care of Iran. Lieberman later denied that Israel will attack Iran, but Bibi's career is at stake, and anything may go.

by MainStreet 2009-06-08 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Yes.  Obama was the aikido candidate and won in a tough fight.  Now he's trying to be the aikido statesman.  And we're ALL rooting for him to gracefully explode the impasse.

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Totally agree that this the main concern, MS.  I think the difference this time around is Barack Obama.

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-08 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Oops, I meant worst to best.  Maybe deep down I'm more optimistic than I can admit.

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz


by YuedoTiko 2009-06-08 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Strum, I know I'm speaking for the majority here in saying that your mere "hunches" frequently teach us much more than any rigorous polling could! Thanks for these.

So, to be clear, I'm understanding your most optimistic scenario as elections resulting in a more leftward Knesset?

I still feel like both the most likely -- and perhaps the most helpful result -- is that:

   (a) Bibi soon caves; and
    (b) he reshuffles his coalition, as necessary.


by YuedoTiko 2009-06-08 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

See above.  My order of likelihoods is quite pessimistic at this point.  But as we already agreed, the big question is how Obama responds and what happens after that.  SO here:

Most likely: trademark stalling and obfuscation.

Less likely: coalition shakeup that enables a bit more movement, but nowhere near enough.

Less likely: major coalition shakeup that embraces reality for the first time in...gosh...ever?

Least likely: new elections with a leftward shift in response to Obama

Possibility I cringe to type and refuse to rank: elections and a worse Knesset...gulp!

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Today's Haaretz

Go option 3! Go option 3!

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-08 09:57AM | 0 recs

Relatedly, I really liked Josh Marshall's take, which I think can incorporate all of this:

I've suggested in my posts on the settlements issue that an Israeli government can't withstand any serious tension in the relationship with the United States. So as long as he remains popular at home, Obama holds almost all the cards in his battle with Netanyahu over settlements. Jeffrey Goldberg suggests that that is precisely what Obama is trying to do: topple Netanyahu's government. I've considered that too. And at some level I think he's right. But at another level I think the question is over-determined. I think that Obama and his people know that right now they have to start a series of steps that lead in the near term to a peace settlement. Settlements are the logical place to start. And whether it simply halts settlements, leads to Bibi's overthrow or forces him into a new coalition, every result gets you closer to the goal which is in the interests of the US, the Israelis and the Palestinians. s/2009/06/ive_suggested_in_my_posts.php

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-08 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

And doesn't Bibi know as well that if he caves on the settlements issue, he is finished. The settler gang will dissociate from him and lacking support, his government may fall.

Too bad to see this happen to a guy raised in Brooklyn, but....

by MainStreet 2009-06-08 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

Bibi was raised in suburban Philly.  Went to school with Reggie Jackson, or at least his older brother Yoni did.

My hope is that if the settler movement deserts Bibi, they will find themselves marginalized.  Only their hold on the right-of-center gives them political power.  It could realign them onto the fringes where they belong.

by Strummerson 2009-06-08 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

Correction registered. So we all hope along with you.

by MainStreet 2009-06-08 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

You can bet that any Israeli leader that seriously threatens the settlers dream of a greater Israel ethnically cleansed of Arabs will be marked for death by the settler movement. The Israeli government has created it's own Hamas and soon it may be more concerned with the security risk posed by the extremist settler's then with any Palestinian terrorist.

by hankg 2009-06-08 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

Something is bound to break, and when it does, the Netanyahu government collapses. Which doesn't mean that Netanyahu is out of power. It means that he then shares power with Tzipi Livni's centrist Kadima Party. If I were an American policymaker, that's the Israeli coalition I would hope for: Netanyahu-Barak-Livni, rather than Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman. You watch: It's coming.

Jeffrey Goldberg - Is Obama Trying To Overthrow Bibi? The Atlantic 5 Jun 09

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-08 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

November 2007

FM Livni's remark on Palestinian state angers Arab MKs

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Arab MKs hit back Sunday after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that that the future Palestinian state would provide a solution to Palestinians worldwide - including Israeli Arabs - in their struggle for national expression.

"It must be clear to everyone that the State of Israel is a national homeland for the Jewish people," Livni said, adding that the national demands of Israeli Arabs should end the moment a Palestinian state is established.

Livni was responding to an announcement made Saturday by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee regarding its decision to draft a document expressing its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Livni also stressed that Israel is a democracy and elected members of Knesset must accept it as such. "The Arab MKs cannot have their cake and eat it too," she said.

In response to Livni's comments, Culture, Sports and Science Minister Ghaleb Majadele said, "The roots of the Israeli Arab citizens of Israel were planted before the state was established. They are residents of this country with rights; their residency and citizenship are not open for negotiation."

"Anyone who raises the idea of transferring the Arab population in Israel to the territories of the state of Palestine is anti-democractic," the Israeli Arab minister added.

Is Livni for reliquishing the Jordan Valley and removing settlements?

by MainStreet 2009-06-08 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

I never understood Kadima' position to include withdrawal to the 1967 borders but they might be prepared to freeze settlements as a precondition to negotiations.  One step at a time.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-08 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: over-determination

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni warned Sunday that Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu's reluctance to declare support for a two-state solution may cause the United States to withdraw its support for Israel.

"In the past it was clear that Israel wanted to accept the peace process," Livni told Army Radio. "The government today is not prepared to advance the process and set future borders, and the feeling in the world is that all Israel is trying to do is gain time."

Livni: Netanyahu endangering U.S. support for Israel Haaretz 7 Jun 09

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-08 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu's headache isn't Obama

The Lebanese electorate has responded and it looks like the Iranian electorate may second that positive response. If that happens maybe the Israeli and Palestinian electorates will catch the wave and dump their own political thugs and religious extremists.

America can not lead by torture, terror and fear. It leads by promoting American ideals and backing up the noble words that underpin our democracy with noble deeds. Our military power is only effective when used in that context. Our ideals are a weapon more powerful then any weapon the terrorists can deploy. Bush and Cheney unilaterally dis-armed the US and left us vulnerable to our enemies.

by hankg 2009-06-08 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu's headache isn't Obama

This Max Blumenthal person is insanely biased.

I'm sorry, but posting videos like this from him is nothing more than trite, trash propaganda.

He prods bystanders to give the opinion he's looking for to promote the specific, very slanted agenda he wants to portray.

These videos (especially that prior video posted here of drunken dual American/Israelis) are extremely biased, not representative of Israeli citizens as a whole, and are trash.

Posting these videos is not analysis. It's propaganda.

What's even more disturbing is that this guy is given a free pass and given credibility just because he's Jewish.

by ThemRights 2009-06-09 03:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu's headache isn't Obama

And frankly, using videos like this discredits your arguments MainStreet even more than your current inflammatory language does, because it shows you're not interested in debate, discussion, and thinking of thoughtful solutions. People interested in those things do not post trash propaganda.

by ThemRights 2009-06-09 03:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Netanyahu's headache isn't Obama

If you are suggesting that the views presented by persons attending the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism affair is propaganda, then I would wholeheartedly recommend that you present your own diary in which you provide the "truths" about this organization and the prize recipients, rather than just calling it propaganda. What is the propaganda you're seeing? Or is it that you are embarrassed by the opinions expressed?

I know that you're new here, but try doing your own diary giving the other side of the story, the one that you believe is the truth.

by MainStreet 2009-06-09 04:45AM | 0 recs


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