Tag Archives: President Obama

A HARD LOOK INSIDE ISRAELI POLITICS

BLOG 251 May 4, 2015

The common assumption in the West is that whatever the Prime Minister of Israel says reflects the opinion of the rest of the government. Because Israel is a democratic entity, the generals seldom disagree with the Prime Minister in public. If Netanyahu is opposed to negotiations with IRAN (NOT Israel as previously posted) , so are the generals.

This is not so.

The current disagreement over negotiations with Iran is a case in point.

The recent heated exchange in the media between Netanyahu’s speech to Congress confronting Obama’s position went off like a July 4th fireworks display but  soon subsided. The last ten days have seen little  in the media as it appears everyone has stepped back and carefully (hopefully) are assessing the actual terms of the agreement. This interim is an opportunity to notice an impasortant dynamic operating in the Israeli government.

The military and the Prime Minister are not on the same page.

In the last two years of his term, Obama will probably face growing hostility and opposition from many quarters. The politicians will provide an ample number of Obama haters and the Israeli-lovers will jump on the band wagon. There are ample reasons to be critical of many of Obama’s decision but the issue with Israel is far more complex that it is currently being portrayed.

For example, a group of American senators recently planned to meet with Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. Netanyahu knew Pardo supported the nuclear talks and canceled the meeting. When foreign affairs committee chair Bob Corker, threatened to return to the USA, Netanyahu rescinded and the meeting was held.  What the committee discovered was that Pardo didn’t agree with the Prime Minister and contented that imposing new sanctions would hurt the negotiations. As significant a leader as the head of Israel’s version of the CIA was opposed to Netanyahu’s viewpoint.

Key leaders like the ex-military intelligence chief Yalin, ex-IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, and ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halvey urged Netanyahu to back off and to work with Obama. They insisted he stop trying to scuttle the still unfinished nuclear deal. They believed Israel could not get a better deal than what was currently on the table.

And what followed? In a rare spirit of compromise, on April 14, Corker’s committee took a position that allowed Obama’s negotiations to go forward. The effect was that it split the Netanyahu-Congress alliance and sided with the Obama-Mossad position. The logic was simple. If negotiations failed, Iran would immediately go after a bomb. A US strike would only slow them down by maybe 3 years at best. The Lausanne agreement buys a decade and possibly two to stop Iran’s nuclear pursuits. A much better deal!

The point is that Netanyahu’s end around run at Congress failed at home in Israel. It helped re-elect him but revealed that his own military disagreed with his actions.

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OBAMA GOES TO THE MIDDLE EAST

Prime Minister Netanyahu now has a fully functioning cabinet and is preparing to welcome the American president. The same is true for P.A. President Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan. Of course, President Obama will avoid Syria where the bloody fighting continues. Egypt remains upside down. Washington has already made it clear that Obama will not be bringing any new proposals for peace to the Middle East. Rather his unannounced objective will be to repair relations with Netanyahu and the Israeli people. As I reported previously, Romney substantially out-polled Obama in Israel during the last election. Probably, the main topic of conversation in Israel will be the containment of nuclear weapons in Iran.

One of the issues that will not go away is why peace between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be achieved. Why indeed! In trying to gain a balanced perspective, one cannot avoid recognizing the fact that peace would seem to be the most beneficial for the Palestinians. Consider the question from a decidedly Palestinian perspective.

Samir Shehadeh, a former literature professor from Nabi Saleh and one of the architects of the first intifada, recently said that the situation is l,000 times worse today than it was before the first uprising. He noted that these armed struggles have only deteriorated the situation in the West Bank. The Oslo accords created a phantom state with an impotent administrative government. Israel controlled everything from water resources to finances. What sprang up was the “Ramallah bubble” with a carefree affluent citizenry having a privileged way of life for the sons of the politicians while the rest of the country struggles. Regardless of what the P.A. authorities say in public, they know their luxuries exist at the pleasure of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israelis continue to chip away at the borders. Netanyahu recently announced plan to build 3,400 settlements houses in an area called El. These unites would effectively cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank. No matter what the West demands, such projects continue and make it almost impossible for the Palestinians to regain some portion of Jerusalem as their area.

Do the Israelis know this fact? Of course, they do.

So, here’s the question once more. Why don’t the Palestinians and the Israelis reach a settlement? The longer it takes, the more Israel gains.

From a Palestinian perspective, I cannot find any good answer to this question. They can scream, threaten, as well as send missiles from Gaza, but they continue to slide. They would have done better to settle before the first Intifada than to have allowed what has followed. The Israelis know this downhill slide exists and aren’t about to destroy it with some miscalculated action on their part.

American foreign policy now recognizes this reality and has come to the conclusion that Israel and the Palestinians must want peace more than America does. Consequently, President Obama isn’t coming with any new ideas. The only change on the horizon will be in Iran (if they don’t retreat from their present nuclear course).

Let’s hope and pray that both Israel and the Palestinians will opt for a better path.

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