Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Maybe It’s Not All Netanyahu’s Fault

Posted in Israel by Dan on March 18, 2010

I’ve been thinking about this Israel-Palestine thing for the past week now, and for the most part, I’ve laid most of the blame on the Israeli Government.  But how can you not?  P.M. Netanyahu’s administration hasn’t exactly behaved the way a respectable statesman should.  Even Jeffery Goldberg, the most pro-Israel staffer at The Atlantic, concedes that the Jewish state has made a whole series of stupid mistakes that could have been avoided.  Just take a look at his most notable (and surprisingly frank) quote, which tells you everything you need to know about Israel over the past year:

“First, there was the gross insult directed at the Turkish ambassador to Israel by the deputy foreign minister.  Then came the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai…a country that is obviously important to the formation of a broad, anti-Iran coalition.  Then, of course, came the humiliation dealt to Vice President Biden on his visit to Israel.  Bibi Netanyahu is not in control of his government.”

This got me thinking.  Perhaps it is not all Netanyahu’s fault after all.  Maybe he’s just stuck in the mud, or caught between a rock and a hard place, or any other old adage that describes a stalemated position.  Sounds naïve?  Hardly so, because this is precisely what his happening.  For all of Netanyahu’s bluster and bravado, it looks like he is having a very difficult time controlling his own allies in the government. Essentially, he is being held hostage by the very same “friends” that propelled him to power in the first place.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict obviously cannot be solved by the United States alone. I agree that the Obama administration- especially Secretary Hillary Clinton and Envoy George Mitchell- are doing the right thing by pressuring the Israeli Government by airing their grievances in a very public matter. This is a warranted development, because Israel really hasn’t been pressured to do all that much with regard to the Mideast peace process.

But all of the complaining in the world won’t do any good if P.M. Netanyahu doesn’t smarten up and bring the moderate Kadima Party into his government.

Currently, Netanyahu is unable to concede to U.S. demands, due in large part to his dependence on right-wing settler movements in the coalition. Ditching the religious fanatics and replacing them with a pragmatic party in Israeli politics may be the only way to solve this settlement issue and get the proximity talks back on track.

Or if Netanyahu is prepared to resign his position, he could stop the East Jerusalem project now. But somehow I don’t think that is going to happen.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of the Economist and Dr. Stephen Walt at FP.com**


12 Responses

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  1. JamesH11 said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    As far as US Policy is concerned, nothing will change.

    AIPAC still runs the show, the Administration and Congress will continue calling Israel it’s best friend even though the country only causes us grief, we will continue to send billions of dollars of aid and unconditionally support everything Israel does. Also, the plans to attack Iran will continue to move forward.

    BUT, hopefully this will wake up more Americans to the fact that this “Special, Unbreakable Friendship” is a scam.
    Hopefully, it will give the press a little more courage to speak a little more critically of our “ally”.

    And Hopefully, one day sooner, the American people and their so-called Representatives can begin having more open debates on this subject which has been taboo for decades.

  2. bampbs said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    It is long overdue that we remind Israel of who needs whom.

  3. zenmonkman said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    The problem with the talks is the lack of “teeth” in the persuasion side of the equation. We give Israel a lot of aid:

    Since 1992, the U.S. has offered Israel an additional $2 billion annually in loan guarantees. Congressional researchers have disclosed that between 1974 and 1989, $16.4 billion in U.S. military loans were converted to grants.In addition, there is the more than $1.5 billion in private U.S. funds that go to Israel annually in the form of $1 billion in private tax-deductible donations and $500 million in Israeli bonds.

    The simple solution: hold back daddy’s allowance … result … talks get on track IMMEDIATELY.

  4. Extranjero said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Being the sole supporter of an Apartheid state that ethnically cleanses people by the thousands puts us and our troops in danger? Since when?

  5. preeths said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    US thinks that by financially aiding countries, it can dictate terms in the policies of Govt.This is going to back fire US and am very glad that Israel is the initiator of this new movement which soon be followed by Pakistan.

  6. jditcher said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    As the sole Democracy in the Middle East, Israel plays a valuable strategic role for the United States. Far from being an errant child with a begging bowl, Israel is an important partner to the US. Rather than scolding Israel, Clinton would do well to condemn the terrorism, human rights abuses and rampant corruption that are a hallmark of other “States” in this region.

    Israel doesn’t need us – we need Israel.

  7. Clave32 said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Time to get the baby bird out of its nest. Israel and its booming hi tech economy has more companies on the Nasdaq then all of Europe combined and is 2nd only to the USA. It does not need USA subsidies anymore and is more then capable of defending itself. The US wants to keep Israel under its wing as a foil in hostile OPEC and Iran land so it is not about to walk away. So long as there is oil the USA will support Israel.

  8. tatsuke said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I strongly support Israel, yet useful criticism can often comes from your friends. I worry about the imagery used in articles related to the Israel/Palestine conflict. The tradition of the Hasidic Jews seems always ignored; they are never shown as representatives of Israel. Israel is always represented by European-looking people. Palestinians are always characterized by rock throwing, black hooded, faceless, people (as in this article).
    Americans seem to not know that there are European-looking Palestinians, and Hasidic looking Israelis. And, images speak a thousand words. With what prejudice does the reader start reading this article upon viewing this magazine’s pictorial representation of the current crisis? The USA can either side with the European-looking man in a suit/tie, or with a crazed, rock-throwing, black-hooded, faceless, mad man (with another hooded/faceless man, next to burning tires, that is picking-up more rocks to throw). Just saying, here after, look for images like this and you will see them everywhere. Of course, these images don’t change the facts, just the perceptions.

  9. muhyedin said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    “The US needs to stop blindly supporting Israel not only for Israel’s sake, and not only for Americans’ saftey’s sake, but because Israel’s occupation is inhumane; it has been depriving Palestinians of the most fundamental human rights; and in many cases (see: Gaza, Hebron, house demo’s, torture, etc), is subjecting them to outright persecution”

  10. ADR1NY said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Take a gander at a history book. The land that is “occupied” by Israel was gained AFTER it’s Arab neighbors invaded them. The peoples of those lands have not exactly been the innocents that you would like to make them out to be.

  11. ModerateWinger said, on March 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Always have to back down every damn time?? I am sick and tired of the United States and the world blaming Israel for every little problem the Palestinians have. I remember world condemnation when Israel tried to root out Hamas in 2 wars. I remember Hamas, and Hezbollah and their suicide attacks against Israel, and no one saying a word about the attacks, yet condemning Israel for protecting their people. I remember Israel bending over backwards, giving up land to try to appease people who had no inclination to deal in good faith.

    If it wasn’t the new building of settlements, it would be something else the Palestinians would be mad at. You can’t please the militants. It’s impossible!!! I was no fan of the Bush administration, but if it did do something right, it did so by standing by Israel. Too bad the Obama administration wants to deal with Israel in a completely different manner.

  12. janbekster said, on March 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    What the current Israeli government wants is that- No divided Jerusalem-No return of Palestinian refugees except those in the age category of coming to die in Israel rather than live-No Jordan Valley borders under the control of the PNA-Settlements to stay where they are with exchange of territories from behind the Green Line where Arab population exists. For all intents and purposes, the PNA wants the opposite of all this, not to mention that Hamas is running its own life anyway. So, what is the alternative now?. I would say both sides should sit together; proximity, distant, or any other type of talks, and hammer out between themselves the points of the their convergence and those of their divergence, then proceed into seeing what is the maximum they can achieve from each other. The talk of war, I think is too abstarct to contemplate under the current circumstances.
    khairi janbek.paris/france

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