Friday, May 01, 2009

Worries in Bibi-land

Advocates a more assertive role in U.S. peacemaking role in the Arab-Israeli zone have sometimes confused pressure with persuasion, particularly in bi-lateral U.S.-Israeli relations. Overt pressure on Israel is politically risky for U.S. Presidents and it often evokes spurious claims of bias, even anti-Semitism. Instead, the key is to persuade the Israeli leaders that it is in their interest to change course

President commands a pulpit to which the informed Israeli public is obsessively attentive. This is why when Bibi Netanyahu comes to town Barack Obama will have considerable leverage to legitimate or undermine Netanyahu.

I do not expect Netanyahu to arrive with a parcel of palatable ideas for moving toward a two-state solution. A Syria-first program will be high on the list of the Israeli delegation. So he will come with ideas to be sure, but on examination they will be constructed to protect Israel's colonization of the West Bank. If so, then a bit of cold shoulder and firmness will be just the parting gift for the Israeli leader.

My view remains that compelling U.S. interests dictate movement promptly toward a two-state solution. I do not see Netanyahu as capable of making that journey. I would love to be proved wrong. We'll see.

Obviously, there are other pieces of the puzzle still scattered, not least the disunited and confused Palestinian leadership, as well as the construction of a system of guarantees that will satisfy the belligerents on both sides.

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