As the neocons lose it, some Israelis see the potential:
The American president has the power to end the Israeli occupation within months. The conquest of the "Third Kingdom of Israel" following the 1956 Sinai Campaign collapsed within weeks. We could return to that situation, despite the stumbling blocks of the settlements, with a clear timetable for evacuation, severe sanctions for noncompliance and generous assistance for those staying the course ...
The tools in Obama's kit are varied: A congressional delegation visiting here recently entertained the idea, in private conversations at least, that the U.S. prohibit Israel from using American weapons in the West Bank; someone suggested levying strict limitations on Israelis entering America. But perhaps it would be enough to simply retract the automatic U.S. veto at the UN - and this is without mentioning stopping the flow of aid.
The real news is that contrary to what many expected, or feared, President Obama assumed positions virtually identical to those of Israel’s political center - namely, that the Palestinians must renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist, while Israel must cease settlement building and permit a Palestinian state to arise. Now, Benjamin Netanyahu’s problem is that it’s difficult to distinguish between President Obama and Tzipi Livni.
And in Israel’s recent elections, Livni and her Kadima party won more votes than anyone else. But the major “problem” that the speech poses for Israel’s leaders is that Israelis are finally going to have to make painful decisions about our future. No longer will Israel’s fractious politics provide a curtain behind which to hide. Will we abide a Palestinian state, or are we committed to the present stalemate as a matter of principle? Are we committed to keeping the West Bank (for reasons of security, history or theology), or are we open to withdrawing if a genuine peace accord is possible? If all Jews will have to depart the West Bank, what about Arabs in Israel? For years, we’ve fudged on these painful questions; with President Obama, that may no longer be possible.
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