Stephen M. Walt -- Will Obama Settle for Failure in the Middle East? - washingtonpost.com
Walt is no doubt correct that the Israeli Prime Minister is playing a familiar string-along game, while the colonization of the West Bank continues relentlessly. For all the hopeful predictions of Netanyahu's "pragmatism" there is no reason to doubt either his deep-seated committed to Zionist Revisionism or his hostility to the premise of an independent Palestine existing side-by-side with Israel.
Walt is also correct to suggest that President Obama is going to have to turn up the heat considerably to attain his stated goal of a two state solution. Will Obama be willing to pay the political price, and is the political price quite as high as Walt suggests? As for the former, we don't know yet. Obama has played his hand very coolly. As for the latter question, might it be that, notwithstanding the formidable AIPAC, the political price has come down a bit. Pro-peace supporters of Israel have supported Obama's firm stance on the settlements. There is evidence to suggest that Israel's image in the eyes of its liberal U.S. supporters has suffered over the past few years. People who freely support to Israel in the past, are now raising questions about Israel's commitment to peace and human rights. (This article in Forward is illustrative of a shift.)
Despite the predictable knee-jerk condemnations of the Goldstone commission's important report, Israel's credibility as a state ready to respect Palestinian rights is in question. Notwithstanding sharp official U.S. comments on the document, the hard-hitting report further diminishes Israel's claims to a morally superior vantage point (remember Barak: "the IDF is most moral army in the world.") The Gaza war report also underlines Israel's dependence on U.S. diplomatic protection, which Netanyahu might be well briefed to remember.
In terms of the dynamics of U.S.-Israeli relations, no Israeli government can afford to jeopardize its relationship with the United States. Although Obama may be unpopular in Israel, there is little doubt that his pressure on Israel has caused many Israelis to worry about the consequences of defying the U.S. president.