Friday, March 12, 2010

In your face welcome by Israel is an opportunity for the U.S. to define a firm stance that reflects U.S. interests

Quartet weighs in:

"The "quartet" of Middle East peace mediators -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- on Friday issued its own condemnation of the settlement plan and said it would assess the situation at a previously scheduled meeting in Moscow next week.

""The Quartet has agreed to closely monitor developments in Jerusalem and to keep under consideration additional steps that may be required to address the situation on the ground," the group said in a statement, without providing further details."

[Former Ambassador Martin Indyk advises Netanyahu, recalling Albright, that he should pay more attention to the U.S. and less to his right wing. Indyk also recalls that the Prime Minister's mishandling mishandling of the U.S. contributed to his defeat by Ehud Barak in 1999. That is a generous reading of the former Clinton adminstration's stance. Recall that while Bill Clinton and Co. were regularly infuriated by Netanyahu, they never really got tough with him. Demonstrations of pique are not getting tough. If you want an example of an administration being tough, you need to go back to Bush/Baker, and there you did have an Israeli Prime Minister going toe-to-toe with the U.S. and losing, literally. Yitzhak Shamir is the case in point.]

[The question that the Obama administration should be asking right now, is not merely how to continue a firm line with a Prime Minister who has no interest in a reasonable two-state solution, but how to insure that his political career is understood by the Israeli public as jeopardizing the only bilateral relationship that really matters to Israel. Netanyahu is not a peacemaker, and to presume that he is only plays into his game.]

1 comment:

William deB. Mills said...

It seems to me that a "firm stance" by the US will necessitate a more careful balance between rhetoric and action than we have seen over the past year. Throughout the year, Israel has been changing the reality on the ground under the cover of talking about talking, with the US falling into the Israeli trap one day, trying rhetorically to squirm out the next.

I would argue that the situation has deteriorated to the point that US rhetoric of any kind is now too little, too late. Action is required.

As Israel changes the situation on the ground by adding houses or settlements, by daily jet fighter violations of Lebanon's border, by police brutality against peaceful demonstrators (now including Israelis alongside Palestinians!), the US must, to gain the initiative, counter with its own actions on the ground. Indeed, the Quartet statement you quoted seems to recognize this, which is somewhat encouraging.

I would be very interested in reaction to the above argument.

Second, it would be useful perhaps to enumerate in a reasonable order substantive steps the US might take.

I would suggest that the situation has passed the point where something like recalling the US ambassador (recently suggested on the net) would suffice.

Since Israel is obviously not negotiating with the US in good faith, it seems time for the US to walk away from the Netanyahu regime and start talking to Hamas. Both Lulu and Erdogan could help in this regard with the mechanics if Washington finds that potato too hot to hold.

Other suggestions for an appropriate US response?