Powered by WebAds

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Netanyahu won't be the first

The Shmuel Katz blog reports that if Prime Minister Netanyahu caves in to President Obama and agrees to 'negotiations' based on the 1949 armistice lines, he will join a long line of Israeli leaders who abandoned reasonable positions under American pressure.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu joins a long list of backpedaling Israeli leaders whose talk doesn’t match up with their walk. In “Surrender to Washington” (The Jerusalem Post, May 20, 1983), Shmuel Katz gives a rundown of the more prominent examples of Israeli collapse in the face of American pressure.
In 1973, in spite of the disastrous opening of the Yom Kippur War, Israel was on the brink of overwhelming victory and, as then foreign minister Abba Eban asserted, the government was not even thinking of a cease-fire but only of victory. It nevertheless accepted a cease-fire resolution dictated – via Moscow – by U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

Then it abandoned its proposal (generously put forward in spite of Israel’s tremendous advantage in the field) to restore the status quo ante, and agreed to withdraw both from the large enclave it held inside Egypt and from the canal – all for good relations with the U.S., which was seeking Egyptian favours.

Several months later, it repeated the performance on the Syrian front. After weeks of resistance to Kissinger’s demands, the Golda Meir government caved in, returned to Syria the captured enclave and, for good measure, a slice of the Golan Heights captured in 1967.

Here was manifestly – in both cases – acceptance of the posture of defeat in the field – where Israel had lost 3,000 dead – all for those good relations.

A further price was yet to be paid – in 1975 – by further withdrawal in Sinai. The Rabin government at first refused to hear of surrender of the vital Mitla and Gidi passes and the Abu Rudeis oilfields – but in the end it capitulated, demonstratively as a favour to Washington.

Now came the turn of the Likud. The allegedly formidable, intransigent Mr. Begin turned out to be formidable and intransigent only temporarily. Throughout the negotiations on the “peace plan,” he finally accepted nearly every American formulation – which he had declared in the process unacceptable, jettisoning cherished and long proclaimed principles.

At the Camp David conference, which came after nine months of preparatory negotiations with Washington, only an emasculated remnant remained of his original autonomy peace plan. Nor did the agreement contain a hint of Zionist purpose, of the Jewish relationship and right to the Land of Israel; on the contrary, it quashed (if it were to be consummated) any hope of future Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

In the negotiations for the subsequent peace treaty, President Anwar Sadat at the last moment demanded the nullification of the clause which would prohibit Egypt from going to war with Israel in fulfillment of previous pacts with the other Arab States. Begin – correctly – proclaimed this would make the treaty a “sham treaty.”

President Jimmy Carter, however, anxious for a foreign policy success, pressed Begin, and an annex satisfying Sadat was introduced into the text.
Big words followed by little deeds is a hallmark of Jewish leadership extending to pre-state days. Vladimir Jabotinsky, Shmuel’s mentor and hero, remarked on the phenomenon in a satirical feuilleton he wrote in May 1939, under the pen name Echad Rosho (the Bad One). Jabotinsky avoided ad hominem attacks and denied that the title of the piece “Mr. Ben Bouillon” referred to Mr. David Ben-Gurion. (Similarly, any resemblance to Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu is purely coincidental.)
In all fairness to Begin, by May 1983, he was a broken man. It was six months after his wife's death and he would resign just a couple of months later and leave the position to Yitzchak Shamir. Of course, Begin also caved in to the Egyptians several times during the negotiations over the Camp David accords in the late '70's.

But Israeli Prime Ministers have an unfortunately long history of talking big and doing little. What could go wrong?

Labels: , , , , ,


At 9:36 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israeli leaders would serve their country much better if they talked little and did much. There is no need to boast and then grovel before the goyim. But as a small country, Israel has little real independence and its survival partly depends on keeping Washington happy.

What could go wrong indeed

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kissinger wanted to keep Egypt non-Soviet after Sadat expelled the Russians; he also had grand dreams of a chain of peace agreements starting with the first link of an Egyptian-Israeli agreement--the idea was that without Egypt as a belligerent you'd prevent an Arab-Israeli war, and then move on to Syria, Jordan, the Palis, etc.

There was a lot of pressure on Israel for a vision that couldn't be realized.

Bibi wants to separate from the Palestinian issue and its headaches, not engage in head-on confrontation with the Palis or their champion in the Whine House.


Post a Comment

<< Home