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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Israel: 'We answer to a Higher Authority'

In Ankara yesterday, American President Barack Hussein Obama tried to assure a nervous Muslim world that yes, he would bring Israel kicking and screaming to the negotiating table to sign away its birthright.
"Let me be clear," Obama said, "the United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of good will around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. And that is a goal that I will actively pursue as president."

He emphasized the need for the two sides to take confidence-building measures while living up to "the commitments they have made."

Both Israel and the Palestinians, he said "must overcome longstanding passions and the politics of the moment to make progress toward a secure and lasting peace."

Turkey, "like the United States, could help Israel and the Palestinians," the US president said.

Ankara, he added, "has been a friend and partner in Israel's quest for security. And like the United States, you seek a future of opportunity and statehood for the Palestinians.

"Now," Obama continued, "we must not give into pessimism and mistrust.

"We must pursue every opportunity for progress, as you have done by supporting negotiations between Syria and Israel. We must extend a hand to those Palestinians who are in need, while helping them strengthen institutions. And we must reject the use of terror, and recognize that Israel's security concerns are legitimate."

Obama claimed that regional peace would also be advanced by Iran cooperating with the international community and forgoing "any nuclear weapons ambitions."

"I have made it clear to the people and leaders of the Islamic republic that the United States seeks engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect," he said. "We want Iran to play its rightful role in the community of nations, with the economic and political integration that brings prosperity and security. Now, Iran's leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people."
The reference to Annapolis was obviously a swipe at Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's rejection of Annapolis last week, and the reaction from the Knesset floor was fast and furious (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
"Israel does not take orders from [Barack] Obama," Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said on Monday, responding to an earlier statement by the US president in which he reaffirmed his administration's commitment to all previous understandings between Israel and the Palestinians, including the process launched at Annapolis, Maryland, in 2007.

Erdan, who is also the liaison between the cabinet and the Knesset, praised Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu), who only last week said Israel was not bound by the Annapolis talks because it had never been approved by the cabinet or the Knesset.

"In voting for [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu the citizens of Israel have decided that they will not become the US's 51st state," said Erdan, who was representing the coalition in a Knesset discussion of Lieberman's controversial statements. He added, however, that "Obama is a friend of Israel and the United States is an important ally, and everything between us will be the result of communication."
The Prime Minister's office was only slightly more 'diplomatic.'
The Prime Minister's Office responded to Obama's comments in Turkey by saying, "Israel appreciates President Obama's commitment to Israel's security and to the pursuit of peace."

"The government of Israel is committed to both of these goals and will formulate its policies in the near future so as to work closely with the United States toward achieving these common objectives," the statement read, while not addressing Obama's comments on the Annapolis process and the two-state solution.
When the opposition attempted to assert that Annapolis obligates Israel, it was smacked down.
Minutes before Obama mentioned Annapolis in Turkey, Lieberman's deputy minister, Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu), heckled Kadima MK Haim Ramon's speech about Annapolis in the Knesset plenum.


Ramon accused Lieberman of harming Israel's relationship with the US by rejecting the American-initiated Annapolis process.

"The entire world is in favor of Annapolis," Ramon said. "If we don't accept two states for two peoples, the world will talk to Hamas. What you are doing is isolating Israel by removing us from the consensus. In December 2008, the UN endorsed the Annapolis process. Foreign ministers of the entire world fought to get to the conference, which was run by the US. If that's not an international obligation, what is?"


"When did you ever hear Obama talk about Annapolis?" the normally mild-mannered Ayalon asked Ramon, interrupting his speech.
There are a number of things that need to be said here.

First, I think that it's great that this government is standing up to Obama (it never would have happened under Olmert), and I believe that the American people are with Israel on this issue regardless of Obama's support numbers. Israel's Foreign Ministry recently did a survey that found that the country where Israel has the highest support numbers is - no, not the United States - India, where 58% of those surveyed said they support us. The United States was a close second at 56%.

More importantly, the same survey gave the 'Palestinian Authority' a 73% unfavorable rating in the United States.

The American people are no fools. They still support Israel overwhelmingly, and expect it to stand up and act in its own best interests.

Second, Obama is dead wrong. There were no 'agreements' reached at Annapolis. The 'joint declaration' that the parties were negotiating was never signed. In international law, states are sovereigns. Obligations cannot be imposed on them without their consent. If nothing was signed at Annapolis - if no agreements were reached or if any agreements reached were not legally adopted in Israel (i.e. by the Knesset) - Israel is not legally obligated by them. And in any event, arguably the 'Annapolis process' evaporated into thin air when no agreement was concluded on its terms by the end of 2008.

Third, Ramon is also dead wrong. Endorsements of the 'Annapolis process' by the UN and the 'World,' assuming that they ever happened, do not obligate Israel as a sovereign country. And the World is already talking to Hamas and will continue to talk to Hamas regardless of what we do. Holding Hamas up as a bogeyman that is our incentive for signing our strategic assets away is playing a shell game. By rejecting Annapolis, we show that we are not going to come to the table on those terms. We enhance our own security and hopefully we get the 'World' to stop playing with us as if we are Czechoslovakia and Judea and Samaria are the Sudentenland.

The new government of Israel has apparently found the courage and spunk to stop being the world's whipping boy. And not a moment too soon. "Israel does not take orders from Obama." Put it in your quote book. We answer (only) to a Higher Authority.


At 8:59 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Amen, Carl! Just like in those Hebrew National commercials. Israel answers only to G-d, as it should. An American President can state his views. But he cannot order another country to do anything contrary to its national interests. And nothing obligates Israel to commit to Annapolis understandings that were never formally adopted by the government or ratified by the Knesset. If America wants to advance peace, it can work together with Israel to make it happen. But if it wants to impose a solution upon Israel, it will find itself going nowhere. That is exactly the message Israel's leaders ought to convey to US special envoy George Mitchell when he returns to the region - so as to avoid crises and misunderstandings between the two countries down the road.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Ashan said...

So far, I love what I hear from the new government. They just need to carry it though and not bend to pro-Arab State Dept. pressure.

One way Israel might try to gain leverage is to vigorously build up our relationship with China. I know that might sound scary to some, but it's a very sound idea. China is proving to be economically and politically shrewd. With Barry's sell out of the US economy and China holding the purse strings, more or less, Israel would be wise to play for the winning team. The Chinese are not raving anti-Semites (unlike the Russians - Lieberman's unfortunate suggestion to align with them not withstanding), nor are they anti-Israel. We should push our PR and diplomatic activities in their direction.

We should all be learning Chinese - certainly our kids should.

Another thought - We should be building up our relationship with India. Israel and India have quite a lot in common and need to support one another in the battle against Islamofascism.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Ron said...

I for one don't mind Obama's statements to Muslims. If words can help (sometimes they can), great. But it doesn't matter what Obama says to them, Palestinian/Arab hatreds and violence will nullify any efforts, as they have for decades. Let him say, "we all have to come together, we are not enemies, blah blah blah." Doesn't matter. Rockets from Gaza and S. Lebanon and the uninterrupted flow of bile from Muslim nations will neutralize any efforts made on their behalf.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Within a matter of months to a year,Hussein Obama will consider Israel more or less an enemy country.In order for Israel to survive this as a Jewish nation, it must now begin streghthening miliary, economic ties with first, India,and then with non-muslim coutries: Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia,Thailand, Japan,Taiwan and
China. It is quickly becoming clear that Hussein Obama, true to his Muslim roots, will, before long,be squarely on the side of the Muslim Umma, and squarely against Israel as a Jewish state.
Netanyahu must perpare for this.

At 12:14 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think what mainly moves Obama are his communist roots, branches, leaves, etc.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we have an insane wild wicked TYRANT in office, Israel needs to fortify and get together for Shabbat on a consistent basis.


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