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Monday, June 29, 2009

How Israelis view Obama

This is a fair summary of how Israelis view Obama.
Netanyahu's centrist approach also strengthened the chances that his coalition will survive potential tensions with Washington. Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to mention the two-state solution to please the US.

It is not yet clear if Washington is looking for a confrontation with Jerusalem by focusing on a total settlement freeze. Israelis are likely to view such an insistence primarily as a pretext for ulterior motives and are likely to support their government. After all, the territory of the settlements is less than 2 percent of the West Bank and even the PLO agreed to an exchange of territory to incorporate the bloc settlements into Israel. Israelis reject a total freeze in the settlement blocs near the 1967 border line, wanting these areas incorporated into Israel in a future peace deal.

Moreover, the Israeli political system has demonstrated its capacity to remove settlements when necessary. Israel dismantled settlements in Sinai in the framework of a peace treaty with Egypt in 1981 and in Gaza and Samaria in 2005. Finally, the Palestinian demand to receive a Judenrein area is racist and unacceptable. If Israel hosts an Arab minority, why can't a few thousands of Jews reside in a Palestinian state, which occupies part of the Jewish homeland?

The Obama vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement within two years is not realistic. While in Cairo, Obama suggested that the Muslim world adopt a pragmatic approach because Israel is a fait accompli that cannot be eradicated. Pragmatism is hardly characteristic of the Palestinian political culture. Israel is still viewed as a temporary entity implanted by the West in the middle of the Muslim patrimony, evident from the Palestinian refusal to accept the generous offer by Ehud Barak in 2000 and the even more generous proposal by Ehud Olmert in 2008. Finally, the Palestinians are beleaguered by internal divisions, culminating with the Hamas takeover of Gaza. They suffer from corruption at the highest levels and the inability to build a state. Palestinian society under the spell of Hamas is moving in the wrong direction.

The Israeli government will try to avert a crisis in US-Israeli relations and will hope for a fast learning curve by the naive Obama administration. Jerusalem can still count on a reservoir of friendship on Capitol Hill and by the American public at large. Due to this support, Israel might decide to put up a fight and play for time.


At 1:05 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama would certainly like Israel to make enough concessions to create a Palestinian state to give him a badly needed foreign policy victory. The fly in the ointment is the Palestinians aren't cooperating. So even if Israel accedes to a settlement freeze, there will be no real progress towards Palestinian statehood. Most Israelis understand Israel lacks a partner on the other side.

The Obama Administration still doesn't see it.

What could go wrong indeed


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