Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama leap-frogs the settlement freeze

As the NYT reports this morning, Mr. Obama is trying to press on, leap-frogging the settlement freeze issue to get Netanyahu to start talking about final settlement of the big issues separating Israel and the Palestinians.  The Palestinians are oh-so-ready to go there - and in sort of back-handed fashion, Obama is making Mahmud Abbas look better, because it truly is on Netanyahu's shoulders now.

But it won't be easy.  Netanyahu can count on the AIPAC-supported bunch (Republicans and Democrats alike) to lay into the president for pressuring Israel "unfairly."  And this "pivot" - as the NYT calls it - will take Obama nowhere unless he's ready to play some real hard-ball with Netanyahu - as in reducing US support to Israel, both diplomatic (in the UN) and economic (by which I also include the billions of dollars worth of military hardware the US provides).  But that, again, will likely cost him support in Congress, unless the American public can somehow reassure the president that they support him on this issue.  Can he somehow  make his case to the public, without leaving their local Congressional reps feeling threatened, caught in the middle between their constituencies and the well-funded (and fund-dispensing) "lobby"?

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