Saturday, December 11, 2010

Obama Caves to Bibi; Cue the Grown-ups

Peter Beinart (via Paul Woodward at War in Context) on the US's decision to give up on a deal for an Israeli settlement-freeze extension.

It's now back to a kind of business as usual, with the US continuing to insist on promoting a dead-in-the-water "peace process" to achieve a going-going-gone two-state solution.   The Palestinian leadership continues to insist that there will be no more discussions with Israel until Netanyahu restores a settlement freeze (which, with the current composition of his government, he cannot - and will not - push for).  And with the drubbing he sustained in November, the increasingly precarious status of his 2012 reelection chances, and the stranglehold that a rabidly pro-Israel Congress (many of whom owe their seats to the votes of their Christian Zionist electorate and the money supplied by AIPAC and allied organizations) has on D.C. debate that might take Israel to task, Mr. Obama (and Mrs. Clinton) are about out of cards to play.

Which brings us back to Beinart, who "congratulates" Bibi for making Obama cave, but then notes (much more seriously) the ever louder crescendo building against Israel's policies - and indeed, even its legitimacy as a Jewish state - among the increasingly influential states of Latin America (among them, Brazil and Argentina, both of which have recognized legally a Palestinian state).  The NYT reports that Turkey and Israel are trying to mend their ties (but "were stuck on several issues, including whether Israel must apologize — or merely express regret — for the killings of nine Turks during a flotilla raid in May"), but the fact of the matter is that both the government and the majority of the people of Turkey have just about taken as much as they will take of Israel's high-handedness with Muslims in the Middle East.  Barring another coup by Turkey's ultra-secularist, pro-West military (whose star has dimmed significantly since the rise of the AKP government under Erdogan), the Turkey-Israel bond will never again be what it was.

What now?  Some in Israel (like the Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick) are pounding even harder on the "us-against-the-world" drum in the face of the rising tide of Latin-Turkish opposition.  The implication is one of an impending Masada-doomsday scenario.  A better path forward for Netanyahu  is out there, however: dump his current coalition, bring Tzipi Livni and Kadima on-board, and empower people like his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who just last night voiced support for the partition of Jerusalem as a step toward a peace deal.

But failing that, perhaps it's time for what Beinart proposes: the US ought to step out of the way, and allow the grown-ups to take over.

Viva Brazil!

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