Monday, March 23, 2015

The President vs. the Prime Minister: Why they'll never get along.

PM Netanyahu has convinced President Obama, 
beyond repair, 
that Netanyahu is a racist.

We should now expect a rapid and prolonged change in all "executive order" based relationships like US/AID investments, cultural and academic exchange programs, and US protection of Israel in the Security Council.

Here's why:

There is no way for President Obama to hear the following statements without directly associating them with the civil rights movement in America:

a) Netanyahu rejected his 2009 commitments to a two state solution;

b) Netanyahu stated clearly in the last 48 hours of the Israeli election that there will be no Palestinian State (no qualification given at the time), and;

c) Netanyahu and his party urged his followers to the polls on election day by portraying Arab voting, Arab voter drives, and allegations of bussing Arabs to polling stations as a threat.  While Netanyahu did NOT criticize or undermine the Arab right to vote, the rhetoric sounds like the anti-black oppression of voting rights in America in the 1960's. Race relations in America are deteriorating, and both the President and the U.S. Attorney General have been paying close attention to race riots and protests in MO and elsewhere of late. It is a hot topic right now in America, and a core value of this Presidency.

Netanyahu's rhetorical portrayal of "the threat" of the Arab voting, along with the denial of the possibility of a Palestinian state sounds to the President like this:  "those who have the vote are a threat, and the rest should never have a vote at all."   The only way the President will interpret that is institutional racism and oppression.

Or, as Jimmy Carter infamously declared it: "Apartheid." Netanyahu has pushed the only button we have that could possibly justify that horrific and misbegotten misunderstanding of Israel.

Now what?

The President has already made statements that must be taken very seriously:

From his press secretary Josh Earnest's press briefings following the election on March 18, 2015:

"Just as a relevant piece of recent historical context is that there have been two Israeli elections during the Obama administration.  In both situations, in the aftermath of both elections, the President did not telephone Prime Minister Netanyahu until he’d already been directed by the Israeli President to begin the process of forming a coalition government.
"So I'm not suggesting that the President will wait until that direction has been handed down this time.  I'm merely pointing out that in previous situations the President has not telephoned the Israeli Prime Minister on the day after the elections.  But I do anticipate that the President will call Prime Minister Netanyahu in the coming days.
"Q    -- talking about the Palestinian state issue over the last couple of days, citing the election.  But now that the election is over and Prime Minister Netanyahu has been reelected, can you talk a little bit about what that means for the U.S. goals in the peace process and the hope for a two-state solution?
"MR. EARNEST:  That's a good question, Justin.  I've got a couple of things to say about that.  The first is that the unprecedented security cooperation between the United States and Israel, including our strong military and intelligence relationships, will continue.  And that relationship will continue because those relationships are essential to the security of the Israeli people, and the President is committed to continuing that important security cooperation.
"The second thing I wanted to say is that it has been the policy of the United States for more than 20 years that a two-state solution is the goal of resolving the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinian people.  And that two-state solution has been pursuit of a democratic and Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.  That has been the policy of the United States under both Democratic and Republican Presidents.
"In the context of the recent election, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated a change in his position.  And based on those comments, the United States will evaluate our approach to the situation moving forward.
"Q    -- that you guys may no longer favor a two-state solution, or that you may reevaluate sort of your ability to cooperate with Netanyahu?
"MR. EARNEST:  What I'm suggesting is that it has been the longstanding policy of the United States that a two-state solution is the best way to address this conflict, primarily because it is in the security interest of the Israeli people -- again, in the view of the United States -- it is in the best interest of the Israeli people because it would be the best way to resolve the very legitimate security concerns that they have.
"The United States also happens to believe, and the President also happens to believe that this would be the best way to resolve the situation, this conflict in a way that satisfies the concerns of the Palestinian people as well.  They seek a sovereign, independent state.  This solution also has the benefit of best addressing the stability of the region; that this ongoing conflict has contributed to instability throughout the region and that addressing this conflict by establishing a Jewish independent state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is the best way to defuse regional tensions as well.
"Of course, it's not going to solve every problem, but we know that this ongoing conflict does serve to inflame tensions around the region and promote instability.  And it has long been the policy of the United States and it continues to be the view of the President that a two-state solution is the best way to address those tensions and address that instability.
"Q    Netanyahu said that there would not be a Palestinian state for as long as he’s Prime Minister.  So the U.S. position is that you favor a two-state solution.  But he’s saying that he doesn’t want that as long as he’s in office.  So does that mean the Mideast peace process is essentially dormant for the rest of the Obama administration? 
"MR. EARNEST:  It means for today -- it means that for today that based on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments, the United States will reevaluate our position and the path forward in the situation.

"Q    Josh, a couple more on Bibi.  Republicans have put out the most celebratory statements on the results.  Some like Ted Cruz have pointed out that in their view, Netanyahu seems to have won despite the efforts of the Obama administration -- the Obama political machine, I think he put it.  I wonder if you care to respond to that.  And also, could you address what this does to efforts to prevent passage of either new sanctions without a veto-proof majority, also the Corker bill to require congressional --
"MR. EARNEST:  I don't anticipate that this will have a substantial impact on our ongoing efforts to resolve diplomatically the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program.  And the reason for that is, obviously Prime Minister Netanyahu has had ample opportunity to make very clear what his views are about that situation, so I'm not sure that the events over the last 24 hours or so has a material impact on that.
"As it relates to some of the comments from Republicans, I'll just point out that the administration, in very conspicuous fashion, avoided leaving anybody with even the appearance of an administration effort to influence the outcome of the elections one way or the other.  The President pointedly avoided commenting on the political back-and-forth that took place in the context of the election.  The President avoided meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he traveled to the United States only because it was two or three weeks before the election.
"So this administration has gone to great lengths to avoid weighing in on one side or the other.  And the reason for that is we believe that the interest between our two countries is well served by preventing this relationship from being subjected to a lot of aggressive partisan rhetoric.  And the President has certainly done his part to ensure that we’re protecting the U.S.-Israeli relationship from that kind of political back-and-forth. And, again, that is consistent with the tradition that other U.S. Presidents have prioritized, which is avoiding sort of the kind of partisanship that is part of the U.S. democratic process from infecting the U.S.-Israel relationship."

From his press secretary Josh Earnest's press briefings following the election on March 20, 2015:

"But you've also heard me raise significant concerns that we have here about some of the divisive election-day political tactics that were deployed by the Prime Minister’s political party on election day.  And you've also heard me raise concerns about the Prime Minister indicating withdrawal of his country’s commitments to a two-state solution.  And those are views that we’ve discussed at some length in this venue over the last day or two, and those were topics that the President raised directly with the Prime Minister in that phone call, as I said that he would."


In conclusion, we should be prepared for a U.S. improvement of relations with the pro-democracy Palestinians, such as Abbas.  Now is the time for those pro-state Palestinians to move forward actively in the U.N., not just the International Court. It is entirely possible that, in the absence of an Israeli commitment to the "legal" creation of a Palestinian state, the U.S. government will see the U.N. as the only viable route to advance the peace goal of  a two state solution.

For the United States, that would mean a withdrawal from the idea of a "negotiated" two-state solution, but if forced to choose between a non-negotiated two-state solution and the "permanent" rejection of a two-state solution, this lame duck President may feel that he is immune from criticism and able to support that move in the U.N.  If the Palestinians were to achieve U.S. support for that bid, it would pass in 24 hrs.

Stay tuned.

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