Leverage Against Netanyahu

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The Israeli government's clear intent to do nothing to jump-start peace negotiations - and to threaten to launch a war against Iran if Washington doesn't - leaves the US in a bind. How to push Israel to end all their settlement provocations and fundamentalist intransigence in Jerusalem and the West Bank? Obviously, in a rational environment, the US would look to the massive aid that American tax-payers send to Israel, especially the illegal military aid to a country secretly possessing nuclear weapons which it insists on denying to any regional neighbors. If you're trying to pressure an ally, aid is one of the obvious ways to do it.

Of course, the idea of using the lever of suspending aid has long been a non-starter in Washington so strong is Israel's support in the capital. But Tom Friedman today urged a policy of American withdrawal from the conflict altogether until the two/three parties show some minimal interest in moving forward:

If the status quo is this tolerable for the parties, then I say, let them enjoy it. I just don’t want to subsidize it or anesthetize it anymore. We need to fix America.

That no-subsidies-for-Middle-East-intransigents line would have real traction for many Americans, sick of spending their money and risking the lives of their sons and daughters in religious conflicts far away. (It could be used against Egypt as well). More interestingly, as Greenwald notes, Joe Klein now thinks using aid as leverage is a good idea:

It is in the best interests of the United States for the Israelis to make this deal. It is also in the best interests of the Israelis. The Neocon-Likudniks have neither Israel's nor our best interests at heart. Boot is right: The Obama Administration may have to be a bit less "grandiose" in dealing with Netanyahu's irredentist government. It should start by putting a hold on all economic and military aid to Israel; the aid should not be discontinued, just held, for a nice long review until the Netanyahu government comes to understand that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine, and that if you actually want peace, you don't build illegal settlement colonies in the Palestinian capital.

Remember also that American tax-payers helped finance the Gaza assault. At some point, the US has a right to say: no mas.

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