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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Netanyahu's Nonsense

I would encourage anybody committed to the idea that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a credible critic of Obama’s speech to meditate deeply upon this statement issued not by the New York Times or the ACLU, but by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the long ago day, November 11, 2010:

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Clinton had a good discussion today, with a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides. Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States' unshakable commitment to Israel's security and to peace in the region.

The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that "the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements." Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement.

The discussions between the Prime Minister and the Secretary focused on creating the conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations aimed at producing a two-state solution. Their teams will work closely together in the coming days toward that end. (emphasis added)

Perhaps something has happened that I missed in the six months since that statement, but I have a hard time understanding how the person whose government released that statement can be lecturing, hectoring, embarrassing, attacking and otherwise seeking to humiliate the President of the United States for stating a plan exactly like what Secretary Clinton is quoted as stating and that Netanyahu’s government agreed would “be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement.”

Benjamin Netanyahu is a politician of extraordinary skill and audacity. It is what has allowed him to remain relevant after a series of scandals and political defeats that would have ended the careers of lesser politicians. But even for a politician, this type of calculated deception and overreaction is stunning. He gives credence to a principle for peace and then six months later accuses the leader of Israel’s most trusted ally of endangering the very survival of Israel for saying the exact same thing. The question that so many are throwing at President Obama deserves to be thrown at Netanyahu: Is this man a reliable partner for peace?

1 comment:

  1. Hey old friend. IMHO the problem with President Obama and his statement is it's context. Never before has an American President publicly promoted the '67 borders. For whatever reason, President Obama chose to highlight it in a highly visible speech in front of the department of state - which means it was effectively delivered to the world. This is not a view held by conservatives only, it is held by democrats and liberal commentator's as well. (more?google in quotes: "you go public, I go public. Love Bibi.") There is a difference between announcing to the world what the closed door baseline might be and what the baseline is when you sit down at the table. That is pretty common negotiating protocol. Those who claim "it's no big deal" don't seem to realize that if his statement stands, then the starting point becomes something other (read: MORE) than the 1967 border with swaps. Netanyahu had no choice but to do what he did. We can only hope that the reason President Obama did this was to posture so that he can (at least) garner cover to come down hard against the UN vote for Palestine which is currently supported by something over 100 nations but will be meaningless without US support. It was risky though because, I get the feeling the President tends to take things personally. (see UK chilliness) It would sadden, but not surprise me if he was so ticked at the affront that he choose to remain neutral (rather than vocally oppose) the UN actions. We'll have to agree to disagree...after all these years.