Monday, April 27, 2009

Policy review in Israel

Israel's new Prime Minister "Bibi" Netanyahu faces an interesting dilemma. As the visit of Hillary Clinton has illustrated, the Bush days of Israel-right-or-wrong may be ending. The U.S. is pushing for a two-state solution, which is anthema to Netanyahu and his government. Some informed people talk about Netanyahu being more flexible than he seems, being pragmatic, being opportunistic, but beneath all the manuevering his ideological orientation is Zionist Revisionism, a committment to the ideal of a greater Israel. Yet, if he does not accept the principle of a two-state solution he jeopardizes his relationship with the U.S. If he does, he may lose support of his majority. So, not suprisingly, the government is reviewing policy. This is a legitimate thing to do, but it is also a way to postpone making a decision.

The Prime Minister will meet the President in May. Expect to see the two-state solution wrapped in so many conditions that it will be impossible to unwrap. At that point, the contradictions in the U.S. and Israel's position will be manifest, and at that point Obama will face the choice of equivocating or speaking frankly. If he chooses the second route, which U.S. interests demand, then it is hard to imagine Netanyahu's government being very tenable. / Middle East - Israel tries to reclaim initiative as international pressure builds

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