Events in Egypt and Syria - as well as Mr. Obama's hands-off stance concerning anything Netanyahu wants to do during the run-up to the November elections - are letting a major development in Israel fly mostly under Americans' radar.
I speak of the recent findings of the Israeli government's so-called Levy committee, which was convened in order to issue recommendations concerning the ongoing Jewish/Israeli occupation of the West Bank. I commend heartily to your attention the recent op-ed from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin. She concludes:
If pre-1967 Israel becomes permanently entwined with the West Bank, it will have to choose whether to give the Palestinians full citizenship and lose the Jewish majority within Greater Israel, or deny them rights and keep them confined to cantons. Down that road lies an apartheid state.
Indeed, the real intent of the Levy report may be to pave the way for annexation of much of the West Bank. According to Ori Nir, spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, which monitors settlement expansion in the West Bank: "The big thing on the Israeli right, which is gaining momentum, is to annex all of Area C [the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and military control]. That is the trend. The fact that the Levy committee walked toward that is important."
Given these troubled Mideast times, few would expect that Israel would accept the risk of a new Palestinian state in the short term. But unless the Jewish state keeps that prospect open - blocking new settlements and taking down those that are illegal - the two-state option will permanently vanish. Israel will find itself conjoined with West Bank Palestinians in a single, untenable state.
Israel has been steadily moving in this direction - and toward this fate - for decades - essentially ever since the rise of the Likud under Menachem Begin. The celebrated Oslo Accords were a chimera. The advent of an American president whose ignorance of (or complete non-chalance toward) history, combined with his hyper-evangelical Christian Zionism - I speak of course of George W. Bush - put paid to the ongoing joke that was the "peace process."
Since 2009, Mr. Obama has let himself be neutered by the realities of US electoral politics and his own determination to be "bipartisan." As a result, he - and the US - have become feeble bystanders as an increasingly right-wing Israeli government and public have engineered what may well be the destruction of their state.