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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Et tu Martin? Indyk hands Netanyahu an ultimatum

In an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune and in an interview with Israel's Army Radio, former US ambassador to Israel and Hebrew University exchange student Martin Indyk castigated Prime Minister Netanyahu for the state of US - Israel relations, and said that Mr. Netanyahu must choose between his Right wing coalition and friendship with the United States.

Indyk argues that President Obama is attempting to isolate and pressure Iran through an 'international coalition' that includes Israelis, Arabs and 'the rest of the world.' But if that is Obama's intent, Israeli concessions to the 'Palestinians' or the Syrians have nothing to do with it. As Indyk himself notes, the Arabs are all united in wanting to see Iran stopped just as much as Israel does. It's not the Arabs that are preventing strong sanctions from being implemented to pressure Iran: It's the Russians and the Chinese, and it's President Obama's unwillingness to give up on the United Nations and form a 'coalition of the willing' to implement sanctions against Iran that have prevented strong sanctions from being implemented.

Moreover, for the last 15 months, instead of trying to isolate and pressure Iran, Obama has attempted to 'engage' the Mullahcracy, to the point that he has left democratic activists in Iran high and dry, while cajoling his own Congress to make sure it does not take action unilaterally against Iran. In fact, as recently as Monday, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley stated that the US continues to try to avoid sanctions and to 'engage' with Iran. Crowley strongly implied that Obama will never agree to implement the 'refined petroleum' sanctions that were overwhelmingly passed by both houses of Congress, and which await a conference.

The only party proposing a "Golan for Natanz" trade is the Obama administration (or Martin Indyk - the Obama administration seems much more interested in the 'Palestinians'). If in fact the administration is waiting for Israeli concessions on the 'Palestinian' or Syrian front to act, the Obama administration is engaging in a dangerous game of brinkmanship, which could leave us with a nuclear Iran that would not only threaten Israel, but also the Arab world and much of Europe as well. That such an exchange is being proposed is the implication of these words from Indyk in the Tribune:
Today, nothing could better help Obama to isolate Iran than for Netanyahu to offer to cede the Golan, as four other Israeli prime ministers have, in exchange for peace with Syria, which serves as the conduit for Tehran’s troublemaking in the Arab-Israeli arena.

The shift in America’s Middle East interests means that Netanyahu must make a choice: take on the president of the United States, or take on his right wing. If he continues to defer to those ministers in his cabinet who oppose peacemaking, the consequences for U.S.-Israel relations could be dire.
In the radio interview, Indyk largely repeated his argument.
In both the article and interview, Indyk tried to link an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, based primarily on demands of the Arab world, with solving the Iranian nuclear threat and the American-led counter terrorist war in what he called the “greater Middle East.” He pointed out that the United States has committed 200,000 American troops to fighting terrorism while Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly ignores American policy that the Arab-Israeli struggle is a problem for American security.
But Israel has never asked for American troops. What it has asked for (during the Bush administration) was overfly rights through Iraq and support from the United States in the United Nations. Israel has not and will not ever ask American troops to fight on its soil. And while the United States may wish (indeed, ought to wish) to take military action against Iran for its own reasons, Israel will never ask it to do so.

Two other minor points. Indyk is indignant over Netanyahu not showing up for the nuclear summit in Washington last week. This is from the Tribune editorial:
Netanyahu explained that his presence at the summit would have prompted some leaders to focus attention on Israel’s nuclear program. But one suspects the real reason for his conspicuous absence was that he does not have an answer to President Obama’s demand that he freeze new building announcements in East Jerusalem for a few months to give peace negotiations with the Palestinians a chance to take off.

That an issue of as much strategic import to Israel and the United States as Iran could be subordinated to the demands of Netanyahu’s right-wing government underscores the growing divide between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.
But the so-called nuclear summit did not deal with Iran. It dealt with preventing nuclear weapons from falling into terrorists' hands, while ignoring the number one threat to bring about that eventuality: Iran. The so-called nuclear summit has been castigated by commentators around the world - and not just by pro-Israel blogs like mine. To ice the cake, Indyk claims Obama persuaded China to go along with sanctions last week, which is an out and out lie.

Second, Indyk acts as if Netanyahu could just do Obama's bidding if he wanted and be a martyr if the coalition is voted out of office. If it were so, I have little doubt that Netanyahu would have done it already. But he can't. I don't believe Netanyahu could pass Obama's demands in his cabinet. Much of the Likud would vote against Netanyahu. If we ended up going to new elections, we would likely have an even more Right-leaning coalition. Bringing down Netanyahu's government will accomplish precisely nothing in bringing about the goals that Obama seeks.

Israel is a democracy. At the end of the day, the only way to force a democracy to act is to convince its citizenry that the action sought is the correct action to take. There may be merits to Obama's arguments for linkage via a Golan for Natanz or other trade (I don't see them, but maybe others would). Obama has totally failed to make a case.

Read the whole thing.


At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Court Jew.

No. Kapo.

Why mince words?!

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Every US administration in recent years has hired Jews to sell out the Jews. Some sound more pro-Israel after they leave government service and others not. Regardless, they typically do plenty of damage.

They join the hall of shame with Israeli politicians and journalists who connive with foreigners against their own government.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Exactly!! Americans shouldn't put any foreign governments over their own best interests either, i.e. Israel!

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

i.e. Saudi Arabia!

Because the US and Israel, as democracies, share important interests, it is very possible for American Jews to favor measures that benefit both. Of course wagner.donna, having an agenda, does not appreciate that.

At 3:37 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I coined that shorthand and it seems to me there is NO merit to trying to trade Israeli concessions for US action on Iran. How does endangering Israel stop Iran? I'm surprised Indyk hasn't seen the flaw in his own argument. The way for the US to win Israeli trust is to keep its commitments.

But breaking its own promises while demanding Israel help it out for reasons entirely unrelated to Iran will not get Israel to budge. And if Indyk and the Obami really believe that, they will be waiting until hell freezes over first before Netanyahu commits political suicide for them. A "Golan For Natanz" arrangement is a non-starter in Israel.


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