Surprise: Top Clinton advisers contemptuous of Netanyahucontempt bordering on the pathological for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The "self-defeating" Netanyahu, according to Indyk, believes "that he is a great negotiator, and that he is operating in the Middle East bazaar, he inflates his requirements well beyond anything reasonable in the belief that this is the best way to secure the highest price." As a result, Indyk wrote, the Israel-Palestine peace process ends up getting dominated by Netanyahu's ego and insecurity issues:
The process of bringing him down to a reasonable price uses up a lot of energy, uses up a lot of goodwill, humiliates his Palestinian negotiating partner, and raises doubts about his seriousness. In the end, under great pressure from all quarters, he will make the final concession, but only after wasting a lot of time, making everybody furious with him, and thereby securing no credit either with his supporters or negotiating partners. At heart, he seems to lack a generosity of spirit. This combines with his legendary fear of being seen as a "freier" (sucker) in front of his people to create a real problem in the negotiations, especially because he holds most of the cards.One does not get the sense that Indyk thinks very highly of the Israeli leader.
But I thought the most interesting section was his assessment of Netanyahu's and Israel's future if they failed to take the necessary steps toward peace:
Obama is doing a great job of 'helping' us deal with Iran, isn't he? /sarcThe reason for dwelling on Bibi's psychology rather than his politics is that the latter all point in the direction of making a deal: the Israeli public is ready to get on with it; if Israel doesn't make a serious move, it will further delegitimize its standing internationally (something Bibi [Netanyahu] is deeply concerned about); Bibi needs President Obama in his corner to deal with the threat from Iran and to avoid punishment by the voters for mishandling relations with the U.S.; and if he doesn't make the deal with [Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas] now, he will have helped to advance the future he is most concerned about — a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian leadership.
And then there's Sandy "Socks" Berger....
Like Indyk, Berger seems to see Netanyahu — not Israel, but Netanyahu specifically — as the primary challenge for peace, and spends most of his memo discussing ways to bring him around.
"I am persuaded the most important factor is and is likely to remain what Netanyahu is prepared to do," Berger writes.
He acknowledges that the Palestinians can be difficult as well, but says that at least they "have a relatively clear sense of their positions on the core issues." Netanyahu, though, is someone who "either does not know himself or is not prepared to share [his positions on core issues] and who, until now, has neither felt the urgency to reach a deal nor the discomfort of the status quo."
And yet Berger concludes that Clinton should solve this problem by assuring Netanyahu that the US will help him meet Israeli security needs as well as his own personal political needs. The picture he paints is one in which Netanyahu is in charge and the US role is to provide him with concessions, personal assurances, and political support until the Israeli leader feels like making peace:
(1) and (2) sure explain this administration's total failure in the 'peace process,' don't they?Rather, [a peace deal] will happen only if [Netanyahu] feels that (1) it is under the leadership of a U.S. administration he genuinely trusts; (2) he is convinced that the combination of the agreement and U.S. assurances meets his core needs in terms of Israeli security and international recognition of its Jewish character; and (3) he feels that, again with U.S. help, he can sell it to his people and survive -- or even thrive -- politically.
And then there's this one from Clinton loyalist Sidney Blumenthal.
A number of the latest emails from 2010 center on the Gaza flotilla raid. Israeli commandos boarded the “Freedom Flotilla” to force the ships to port for inspection. A few dozen of the hundreds on board fought the commandos; 10 activists were killed and 10 of the Israeli commandos were wounded.
In an email to Clinton that day — May 31, 2010 — Blumenthal called the incident “Bibi’s Entebbe in reverse.”
“The father, Benzion Netanyahu; 100 years old, secretary to Jabotinsky, and denounced as too radical by Begin, adored his son Yoni, heroically killed at Entebbe. Benyamin has never measured up,” Blumenthal wrote. “Benzion has constantly criticized him in public for his deviations from the doctrine of Greater Israel. Bibi desperately seeks his father’s approbation and can never equal his dead brother. See Benzion’s most recent scathing undermining of his son Bibi and Bibi’s tearful tribute to his brother just last month.”
“The raid on the ship to Gaza resembles the raid on Entebbe, except that there are no hostages, no guns, it’s not in Africa, and it’s a fiasco; otherwise, it’s Entebbe. (Then, there’s Ehud Barak reliving his youth as a raider killing Palestinians in Lebanon, a feat memorialized in Spielberg’s film, Munich. Ultimately, it didn’t work out well that time either. The film captures the moral quandaries, which appear to have escaped the participants.)”
Blumenthal goes on to write, “The international press will inquire whether the Obama administration gave a wink or nod as the Bush administration did for the Lebanon and Gaza incursions. Be prepared.”
“Further: Of course, the consequences for US foreign policy and national security are negative across the board: from the analogy of the North Korean ship sinking and the Chinese posture to support for Iranian sanctions, etc., etc. Did the Israelis not hear Petraeus’s testimony?”
Blumenthal added that “of course, whatever the outcome of such a raid, one of the inevitable ones would be the death of the peace process, such as it is, on the very eve of Bibi’s scheduled visit to Obama, which would have been, under any circumstance, in light of the raid, profoundly humiliating for the president. Or are the Israelis bone stupid? I don’t think so.”
Hillary forwarded the email 35 minutes later to Jake Sullivan, her deputy chief of staff at the State Department and director of policy planning. He is believed to be Clinton’s pick for national security advisor.
“Fyi and itys,” Clinton tells Sullivan. The latter is Internet slang for “I told you so.”
Blumenthal sent other messages to Clinton after the flotilla raid, including a Max Blumenthal column on “deconstruction of propaganda” by Israel, a Center for Strategic and International Studies piece titled “Israel as a Strategic Liability?” and “leaked” Netanyahu poll numbers.Note what Indyk, Berger and Blumenthal all have in common - other than their love for the Clinton's.... Hint: It's a certain religion. No one matches the Jews at undermining the Jews.