Monday, March 15, 2010

Can Obama Stand Firm against Netanyahu this time?

US presses Israel over East Jerusalem settlement row - thus reports the BBC, with other outlets now quoting Israeli ambassador Michael Oren  about the worst crisis in US-Israel relations in 35 years, and a crisis of "historic proportions."  You can bet that Obama is under a lot of heat from the Israel lobby to make nice with Mr. Netanyahu and patch things up by climbing down from this confrontation.

Two things to bear in mind though:
  • Obama's remaining credibility with the Palestinian leadership and the "Arab street" is on the line.  If he doesn't stand up to the pressure this time (as opposed to how the White House wilted in the face of Israel's protests over the Goldstone Report), he's toast as far as any "peace process" is concerned.
  • He now has the Petraeus card to play - to wit, the sainted General's reported questioning of Israel's real value as a strategic ally of the US.  As Richard Beeston put it in the Times of London:
If America’s unwavering support for Israel is endangering the lives of US troops in Kandahar or Baghdad, then the Jewish state has a problem.
Petraeus has been the darling of the Fox News triumphalist right for years.  If he has indeed raised the question, they're not going to dismiss it easily.

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