Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is stuck between a diplomatic rock and a political hard place. And his chosen means of extricating himself from the double bind is only making things worse for him and for Israel.
Diplomatically, Netanyahu is beset by the Palestinian political war to delegitimize Israel and the Obama administration’s escalating hostility. That hostility was most recently expressed during President Barack Obama’s meeting with American Jewish leaders on March 1. Insinuating that Israel is to blame for the absence of peace in the Middle East, Obama scolded Jewish leaders, telling them to “search your souls” over Israel’s seriousness about making peace.
Obama’s newest threat is that through the socalled Middle East Quartet, (Russia, the UN, the EU and the US), the administration will move towards supporting the Palestinian plan to declare statehood. That state would include all of Judea and Samaria, Gaza and eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem. Since it would not be established in the framework of a peace treaty with Israel, and since its leaders reject Israel’s right to exist, “Palestine” would be born in a de facto state of war with Israel.
To credit this threat, Obama has empowered the Quartet to supplant the US as the mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Buoyed by Obama, Quartet representatives and American and European officials have beaten a steady path to Netanyahu’s door over the past several weeks. Their message is always the same: If Israel does not prove that it is serious about peace by giving massive, unreciprocated concessions to the Palestinians, then they will abandon all remaining pretense of support for Israel and throw their lot in completely with the Palestinians.
For the past year and a half Netanyahu’s policy for dealing with Obama’s animosity has been to try to appease him by making incremental concessions.
Netanyahu’s rationale for acting in this manner is twofold. First, he has tried to convince Obama that he really does want peace with the Palestinians. Second, when each of his concessions is met with further Palestinian intransigence, Netanyahu has argued that the disparity between Israeli concessions and Palestinian rejectionism and extremism demonstrates that it is Israel, not the Palestinians, that should be supported by the West.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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