Obama is coming to Israel to play hardball
Op-ed: US president will not travel thousands of miles just to eat hummus or place note in Kotel
Eitan Haber, YNET
During his next term as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will have to do what he avoided doing in his previous terms: Draw boundaries and begin establishing two states for two peoples. This painful process, certainly from Netanyahu’s perspective, will commence soon.
Officials in Jerusalem and Washington say that Obama will not introduce a new plan during his visit to the region next month; that it is important for him to show the Jewish community in the US that he is not hostile toward Israel. This could be true. Or not.
An impolite American would call these statements bullshit. Despite John Kerry’s claim that Obama will not bring a peace plan to Israel and the Palestinian territories next month, but rather intends to listen, an American president does not travel thousands of miles just to eat hummus in Mahane Yehuda Market, place a note in the Western Wall or lay a wreath at Yad Vashem. In his second and last term, Obama wants to leave his mark on history. And he will leave a mark on history if the path toward ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will begin during his term. Obama and his associates know they can achieve glory here, between Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.
The Americans are not sentimental. In Panama, at the time, they killed thousands of innocent people just to capture a ruler they believed was a drug dealer. If they ask something of Netanyahu, nicely, they will actually be ordering him to do it. They will begin with a small step and suggest to Netanyahu that Israel reduce or stop construction in communities outside the “settlement blocs.” By doing so they will be hinting that communities located outside the “blocs,” even the large ones, will not be a part of the State of Israel once the permanent borders are drawn.
Netanyahu will object, cause a media uproar and maybe even shed a tear, but he will explain to us that there is no choice. And he will be right. Netanyahu knows that without America we have no life here. Although he is still torn between Jabotinsky’s doctrine and reality, the prime minister leans to the moderate side of Likud when it comes to finding a solution to the bloody conflict. Today he is closer to Dan Meridor than he is to Moshe Feiglin. There is a reason why the settlers consider him a “suspect.”
Netanyahu signed his first coalition agreement with Tzipi Livni, who calls for the resumption of peace negotiations. Will he tell her, when the time comes, to forget about the agreement? We’ll see. If he submits any part of a peace agreement for the Knesset’s approval, he will not be able to count on the votes of Feiglin, Yariv Levin, Uri Ariel, Naftali Bennett, Orit Struck and Tzipi Hotovely. As was the case with the peace treaty with Egypt, which was brought by Menachem Begin, it will be the Labor and Meretz parties that will save Netanyahu and his term.