Yesterday struck me as a humiliating spectacle for the president of the United States. What did he get out of the meeting? Netanyahu did not utter the words "Palestinian state" and made no pledge to continue even the freeze on new settlements in the West Bank after September. For this, he was feted and personally walked to his car. Maybe, as the NYT suggested, there has been a private deal to extend the settlement moratorium on the West Bank. If so, that makes this explicable. Or maybe Obama realized he has no ability to leverage Israel on anything, and was just desperately trying to get pro-Israel Democratic donors to pony up in time for the mid-terms. He didn't even publicly call for continuation of the moratorium! He also caved on Israel's 150 nukes:
In another gesture to the Israelis, Mr. Obama emphasized that there had been no shift in American policy on Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons program, despite the United States’ signature on a recent United Nations document that singled out Israel for its refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, binding 189 countries.
Beinart sums up my feelings:
What kind of schmuck does Netanyahu think Obama is? He wants Obama to push the Palestinians into direct talks with Israeltalks the Palestinians are wary of because they fear that Netanyahu isn’t serious about negotiating a Palestinian state. The Netanyahu-Obama meeting was meant to help jumpstart those direct talks, and yet Netanyahu wouldn’t even utter the words “Palestinian state,” let alone outline what its borders should be. (Something Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has done in detail). The bald reality is this: Netanyahu has zero interest in birthing a Palestinian state until Hamas is crushed and the Iranian regime is disarmed, if not overthrown. And he can’t seem to grasp that movement towards a Palestinian state might actually further those goals. If this is what Obama gets for playing nice, perhaps he should consider going back to tough love.
But tough love didn't work either. We are discovering that in a struggle between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel, it really is no contest. Somewhere, Dick Cheney is smiling.
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty.)
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