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Monday, June 01, 2009

Netanyahu just says no

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to just say no to Obama administration demands that Israel halt building in Jewish towns that are within the 'settlement blocs' that the Bush administration told Israel in 2004 that it could keep. The government also will not halt 'natural growth' in Jewish towns that are beyond the 'security fence.' And it will allow unlimited building within the Jerusalem city limits.

Netanyahu has also sent Defense Minister Ehud Barak to the United States to explain to Obama administration officials that Israel cannot and will not agree to a total 'settlement freeze.' Barak, from the most Left party in Netanyahu's coalition and the man who nearly gave away all of Judea and Samaria in 2000, is believed to have the credibility to make the Americans understand that no party in the coalition will support a total 'settlement freeze.'
In light of unequivocal comments made over the last week by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an end to all settlement construction, including for natural growth, as well as US and Israeli officials' failure to reach an agreement on this issue in London last week, there is a great deal of frustration over the matter in the Prime Minister's Office.

However, there is also a sense that Netanyahu simply cannot agree to the US demands.

Despite the failure of the London talks to resolve the issue, dialogue on the matter is continuing, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak expected to discuss the matter Monday in New York with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, and then later in the week with US Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser James Jones.

Representing the left flank of the Netanyahu government, Barak has made it clear that he, too, feels it is illogical and impossible to completely stop all construction in the settlements.

Israel has made clear to the Americans that while it will build for natural growth, it will do so in a way that will not impinge on the Palestinians - meaning that the construction will be within the designated boundaries of the settlements; there will be no expropriation of new land and no construction of any new settlements.


There are those saying that the US is staking out a tough position now prior to Obama's anxiously awaited speech in Cairo on Thursday, but that the US will then "climb down from the tree" and come to a tacit agreement with Israel on the issue.

But there are others who believe that settlement construction is indeed a major irritant for the Obama administration, and that since the administration senses there is little support in Congress for construction in any of the settlements, whether in Ma'aleh Adumim or Yitzhar, the Obama administration will not back down on the issue.

The unmistakable message being conveyed to Jerusalem by some key supporters in the US is that at this time, there is not going to be a lot of understanding in the Democratic-led Congress for any building in the settlements.
There is also some hope that Barak will be able to 'soften' whatever blow Obama intends to deliver from Cairo later this week.

My own view is that Barak will not succeed in making any headway with the Americans because Obama is seeking a clash with Israel to improve his status in the Arab world. I am also pessimistic that most of the Democrats in Congress will help (think Bob Wexler and Gary Ackerman - among others). I don't believe Obama will back down.

Seventeen months to midterm elections.


Here are some reasons why Ehud Barak might succeed:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, like Peres and Meridor before him, hits from the Left side of the plate and therefore has much in common with Obama. But there are signs that he can be more of a hit with the Obama administration than the other two were.

First of all, he has a longstanding relationship with top American players such as Clinton, whose husband was in the White House when Barak was prime minister, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whom he has known for decades and with whom he stayed when he came to the US as a private citizen a few years ago.

Secondly, the Democrats know he did everything possible to bring about peace with the Palestinians. The Clinton administration gave him credit for his efforts and blamed former PA chairman Yasser Arafat for Camp David's failure.

And perhaps most importantly, Barak has power that Peres and Meridor do not, because as defense minister, he can remove outposts and roadblocks and take real steps to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. That's something that can no doubt appeal to Obama.
Unfortunately, Obama has it in for us.


At 9:48 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - Obama is guided by ideology. No facts and no amount of reasoning will make him grant Israel a fair hearing. The tragedy is Israel will be standing all alone but its not Israel's fault. Israel has tried to do everything to take into account American concerns but the US is intent not on meeting Israel half way but on pushing Israel around. Sometimes in life, one has to say "no." None of us would be married for long if we ordered our wives around. The same is true of the relationship between countries. If the US succeeded in forcing Israel to capitulate on a peripheral matter, it would poison the relationship and make it impossible for the US to get anything more important from Israel down the road. You want to influence a friend wisely. That's not what the Obama Administration is doing in managing its relationship with its most important ally in the Middle East.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Ashan said...

And "No" should stay "No". Here's hoping that Netanyahu will muster the strength and support to weather the evil machinations of Hussein and his passel of thugs. We need to support our PM at every turn. Personally, I would like to see street support.

Not much attention was paid to TOTUS Hussein's viciously anti-Israel pal, Ali Abunimah's comments during the campaign about how Hussein told him that he was on the side of the Palithugs and he just needed to lay low until after the elections. Talk about chickens coming home to roost.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

It is past time where Israel needs to check with the US on getting permission to exist and live.

Bibi needs to make sure Israel focuses upon Israels needs.

No should remain no.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Kafir Harby said...

Obama is guided by the new world order (inspired by the Bilderberg group), he's just a puppet on a string. Tell Hussein Obama that his request will be obeyed (give him some takiyya). At the same time stir up the hatred amongst Hamas and Fatah. Since they are Arabs, they can't control themselves, and before you know there's a small civil war on the West-bank. So you will have stalled the (worthless) peace process long enough to see Obama take a decisive stand on Iran. Here the real show starts.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I'm not sure "No" should necessarily stay "No" as long as the terms are made reasonable. Demanding a total settlement freeze is ridiculous. It's not the US's job to tell other people that they can or cannot grow. Some demands might be more reasonable, but totally stopping growth doesn't make any sense.

But I agree that Obama is obviously more sympathetic to the anti-Israel crowd, and as such I don't think he ever expected to reach a settlement but just use the opportunity to throw his weight around.

Fortunately even some Western media seems to be catching on to what's going on here. I just saw a video on Newsy explaining the situation. Hopefully other news sources will soon follow suit and we can get enough popular sympathy to force Obama to back down.


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