March 14, 2010
Driving Drunk in Jerusalem
I think that — rather than fuming and making up — would have sent a very useful message for two reasons. First, what the Israelis did played right into a question a lot of people are asking about the Obama team: how tough are these guys? The last thing the president needs, at a time when he is facing down Iran and China — not to mention Congress — is to look like America’s most dependent ally can push him around.
Unfortunately, that is not what happened last week. For nine months now,
Nevertheless, Mitchell was eventually able to persuade the two sides to agree on “proximity talks” — the Palestinians would sit in Ramallah and the Israelis in
Mitchell’s and Netanyahu’s aides struck an informal deal: If America got talks going, there would be no announcements of buildings in
So what happened? Biden arrived the day after the proximity talks started and out came an announcement from
Netanyahu said he was blindsided. It’s probably true in the narrow sense. The move seems to have been part of a competition between two of Netanyahu’s right-wing Sephardi ministers from the religious Shas Party over who can be the greater champion of building homes for Sephardi orthodox Jews in
Biden — a real friend of
This whole fracas also distracts us from the potential of this moment: Only a right-wing prime minister, like Netanyahu, can make a deal over the West Bank; Netanyahu’s actual policies on the ground there have helped Palestinians grow their economy and put in place their own rebuilt security force, which is working with the Israeli Army to prevent terrorism; Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are as genuine and serious about working toward a solution as any Israel can hope to find; Hamas has halted its attacks on Israel from Gaza; with the Sunni Arabs obsessed over the Iran threat, their willingness to work with Israel has never been higher, and the best way to isolate Iran is to take the Palestinian conflict card out of Tehran’s hand.
In sum, there may be a real opportunity here — if Netanyahu chooses to seize it. The Israeli leader needs to make up his mind whether he wants to make history or once again be a footnote to it.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs