Sunday, March 22, 2015

Netanyahu's Victory and Obama's Response

From Professor Michael Curtis, at American Thinker:
The main issue with which the U.S. administration is concerned is that of a Palestinian state. President Barack Obama appears to be more concerned with maintaining this stance than in offering congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Other political leaders, British Minister David Cameron, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande, the prime ministers of Australia, Netherlands, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and India, and the foreign affairs head of the European Union, quickly made the customary polite remarks to the Israeli leader. Prime Minister Cameron had twittered that he looked forward to working with the government of Israel, one of Britain’s closest friends.

The White House appeared less enthusiastic and certainly less personally cordial. The formal cold statement issued after the belated phone conversation between the U.S. and Israeli leaders stated they agreed “to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

However, much more pointed were the remarks of Obama and his spokespeople that the U.S. was reassessing its approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. One can imagine that reassessment will entail a number of factors, including UN resolutions on a Palestinian state, and the attempt of the Palestinian Authority to bring charges of war crimes against Israel to the International Criminal Court. One issue will certainly be that of the Israeli settlements, that, in the words of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in spring 2010, were a “deeply moving signal” that harmed the bilateral relationship, and that Obama considers illegal.

The lack of warmth of the U.S. leader to his Israeli counterpart has long been evident, but it must be disregarded in the effort to achieve a lasting peace. Differences inevitably arise between allied nations, and the current issue of a nuclear Iran is a pressing and controversial one on which Obama and Netanyahu differ. But for 40 years, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been based on shaping an Israel-Arab peace agreement resulting from a process of negotiations between the two parties, not from unilateral actions. For Obama to support a UN Resolution calling for a Palestinian state would be to transform what has been a bipartisan U.S. policy into a one party point of view.

In the interests of peace as well as harmonious US-Israeli relations it is essential that Obama rethink his immediate response to Netanyahu’s victory. Obama had already injected himself into the Israeli electoral campaign if only indirectly as a result of the work of Democratic Party operatives. Netanyahu was perhaps excessive in his rhetoric that complained of the foreign-funded effort to topple his party. Yet he was correct that a group, led by a former national organizer for Obama, had set up the electoral V15 organization and boasted they were doing a job of getting out the anti-Netanyahu vote with over 15,000 volunteers throughout Israel.