Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Whither Netanyahu-Obama?

Last week’s diplomatic dance between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama did little more than to give the Israeli government more time to avoid making the hard decisions needed to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

Print Friendly

Inter Press Service

What led the Middle East hit parade last week was less the chords struck harmoniously at the White House last Tuesday by two deft diplomatic dancers than the slick dance routine performed by a squad of Israeli soldiers patrolling the streets of the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron.

Israeli Television collated scores of reports by news channels worldwide about the YouTube clip titled “Batallion 50 Rock the Hebron Casbah.”

During the Muslim call to prayer heard in the background, six soldiers in full battle-gear break into a rendering of the hit song “Tik Tok”. Hand-in-hand, they dance in pairs before smoothly skipping back into patrol mode. Not amused, the Israeli army threatens to discipline the dancing soldiers.

With the clip stealing the show on the eve of his much-anticipated fifth encounter with U.S. President Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, was probably not amused either.

After all, aren’t the streets of Hebron a sobering reminder — especially to his ultra-nationalist flank — of how once before (in his previous premiership in the late ’90s), Netanyahu succumbed to U.S. pressure designed to limit Israel’s control over the occupied West Bank.

That partial withdrawal from Hebron in 1997 is the only time Netanyahu has made any tangible move to advance peace.

What Obama wanted to know was precisely whether now, 13 years later, the Israeli leader is ready for another move to help realise the U.S. peace vision.

After their talks in the Oval Office, Netanyahu declared he intends “concrete steps” in “the coming weeks” to move Israeli-Palestinian peace “further along in a very robust way.”

Obama seemed ready to believe him — or at least, projected the impression that he does.

“I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace… Now more than ever is the time for us to seize on that vision,” Obama said. “We expect the proximity talks to lead to direct talks. I believe the government of Israel is prepared to engage in such direct talks.”

But, the President added, “That’s going to mean some tough choices. And there are going to be times where he and I will have robust discussions about what kind of choices need to be made.”

Both men were at pains to demonstrate that the acrimony that had marked their previous meeting in March was dead and buried. Statements were well- rehearsed, well synchronized, nothing seemingly out of step in a way that had recently led the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, to describe U.S.-Israeli relations as having undergone a “tectonic shift”.

No strident notes. Equally, no specific reference to the need for Netanyahu to extend his self-proclaimed partial settlement freeze, no fixed time-table for realising the vision of the two-state solution, and nothing about recently announced disruptive Israeli settlement forays into occupied East Jerusalem.

Iran’s nuclear challenge was on the table. But beyond generalities about Israel’s security, what the two leaders didn’t spell out was what each expects the other to deliver: Obama to act against Iran, Netanyahu to curb the settlements and reach a full arrangement about the future of the West Bank.

Some, like Aluf Benn, the Harretz diplomatic correspondent, refer to this as some sort of grand bargain: “This deal, foiling Iran’s nuclearisation in exchange for stopping the settlements, has been on the agenda since both were elected. Each knows what the other wants, but is trying to lower the price.

“Now that Obama has made his move on the Iranian front, it’s Netanyahu’s turn to give something on the Palestinian front,” Benn wrote.

For all the big words and big commitments, the Palestinians believe Netanyahu is still falling far short of striking the right notes needed to advance the final U.S. peace score.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told IPS bluntly, “Netanyahu must choose between settlements and peace. We want to resume direct negotiations, but the problem is that the land supposed to be a Palestinian state is being eaten up by settlements.”

That was highlighted by the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, which in a new report issued Tuesday revealed that settlements now control nearly half of all West Bank land.

Also Tuesday, the New York Times produced fresh evidence about how, quietly but resolutely, evangelical Christian groups in the U.S. are entrenching the settlers, using tax-exempt donations.

The Times identifies public records in the U.S. and Israel which reveal that at least 40 such groups have collected over 200 million dollars in tax-deductible gifts over the past decade for settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“The result is a surprising juxtaposition,” the Times commented. “As the U.S. government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state, the U.S. Treasury helps sustain the settlements on donations to support them.”

For all these discordant reports, Obama may have agreed to give Netanyahu some months leeway before taxing him with the “tough choices” he’d made a point of mentioning in their joint news conference.

But, is the President actually leading the dance?

Having enjoyed for the first time the Obama White House, Netanyahu may feel free to use the rest of the summer interlude (his 10-month settlement moratorium concludes at the end of September) to change partners.

And, to find the right kind of steps to keep his domestic partners on the far Right from straying from him.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Clare Lopez is a former CIA officer and rightwing activist who has argued that the Muslim Brotherhood and a shadowy “Iran Lobby” are working to shape Obama administration policy.


Michael Ledeen, a “Freedom Scholar” at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has long been obsessed with getting the U.S. to force regime change in Tehran.


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has emerged as the most visible advocate of hardline security policies in the Cheney family.


Bret Stephens is a columnist for the New York Times who previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and the neoconservative flagship magazine Commentary.


Joe Lieberman, the neoconservative Democrat from Connecticut who retired from the Senate in 2013, co-chairs a foreign policy project at the American Enterprise Institute.


Former attorney general Edwin Meese, regarded as one of President Ronald Reagan’s closest advisers despite persistent allegations of influence peddling and bribery during his tenure, has been a consummate campaigner on behalf of rightist U.S. foreign and domestic policies. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

The President went to the region as a deal maker and a salesman for American weapon manufacturing. He talked about Islam, terrorism, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without the benefit of expert advice in any of these areas. After great showmanship in Riyadh, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, he and his family left the region without much to show for or to benefit the people of that war-torn region.


Print Friendly

Although the Comey memo scandal may well turn out to be what brings Trump down, this breach of trust may have had more lasting effect than any of Trump’s other numerous misadventures. It was an unprecedented betrayal of Israel’s confidence. Ironically, Trump has now done what even Barack Obama’s biggest detractors never accused him of: seriously compromised Israel’s security relationship with the United States.


Print Friendly

Congress and the public acquiesce in another military intervention or a sharp escalation of one of the U.S. wars already under way, perhaps it’s time to finally consider the true costs of war, American-style — in lives lost, dollars spent, and opportunities squandered. It’s a reasonable bet that never in history has a society spent more on war and gotten less bang for its copious bucks.


Print Friendly

Trump’s reorganization of the foreign policy bureaucracy is an ideologically driven agenda for undermining the power and effectiveness of government institutions that could lead to the State Department’s destruction.


Print Friendly

Spurred by anti-internationalist sentiment among conservative Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration, the US is headed for a new confrontation with the UN over who decides how much the US should pay for peacekeeping.


Print Friendly

Decent developments in the Trump administration indicate that the neoconservatives, at one point on the margins of Washington’s new power alignments, are now on the ascendent?


Print Friendly

As the end of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president approaches, it seems that his version of an “America-first” foreign policy is in effect a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.


RightWeb
share