Obama and Israel’s Netanyahu Will Cooperate or Face “Mutually Assured Destruction”

His meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington next month will be a formative event in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career. Its outcome will determine whether Netanyahu’s impressive comeback a decade after he left the prime ministership will lead him once again into disputes and confrontations with the U.S. administration, as happened in his first term, or whether the old-new Netanyahu will become a desired and welcome guest in the White House.

By Aluf Benn
Haaretz Newspaper, Israel

The prime minister is aware of the assumption of many that his rejection of the idea of a Palestinian state, and opposition to withdrawals from the West Bank and the Golan Heights, will result in an inevitable crisis in relations with Obama and propel Israel into political isolation. But he is not afraid. The way he sees it, it’s better to come to the White House with a list of demands and requests, and to condition any concession on a quid pro quo, than it is to play the role of yes man to the president and gain nothing in return.

Ehud Olmert emerged from his many talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the impression that, because of the Palestinians’ positions on the so-called core issues, there is no chance for a final-status accord with them – which is why he opted to emphasize Israeli generosity to secure international support. Netanyahu prefers to enter into negotiations with maximalist positions rather than to begin with concessions that may win the world’s approval but won’t satisfy the other side. He is ready to pay the political price this will exact abroad for the sake of appearing consistent in his positions and preserving his coalition at home.

With the Washington trip on the horizon, Netanyahu has filled the international media with hints that Israel is ready to launch a preemptive strike against Iran, and with the demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, something he said would be a precondition for Israeli recognition of a future state. Obama replied to these messages with a call for goodwill gestures and confidence-building measures, and with a reminder of the commitments made by Netanyahu’s predecessors – i.e., a freeze on settlement construction, the evacuation of outposts and the removal of checkpoints in the West Bank.

‘Itamar for Natanz’

Translated from diplomatic-speak, it means something like this: Netanyahu threatens to disrupt Obama’s “new order” in the region, if he sends the air force to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities; Obama threatens to undermine Netanyahu’s coalition, if he demands that the Israeli rein in the settlers. This equation, “Itamar [the West Bank settlement] for Natanz,” was posed before, during the Olmert-Bush era, but both leaders were too weak to make the threats credible it – Bush because of Iraq and Olmert because of Lebanon. Their successors currently enjoy a burst of political strength, at this early point in their tenure, and so the “mutually assured destruction” equation relevant once again.

Read the rest:


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Israel Worries Obama “Cannot be Relied Upon”
Israel Alarmed By Obama Administration’s “condescending attitude toward our prime minister and Israeli public opinion”

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