At the White House, Netanyahu Makes His Case

(Washington Post) Jackson Diehl - Netanyahu has formulated a pragmatic and non-ideological position - one that he discussed with Obama at length on Tuesday. The argument goes like this: Times have changed in the Middle East since 1993, when Israel and the Palestinians concluded the Oslo accords calling for a gradual handover of the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian government. Then, the main threat to Israelis in the territories was Palestinian rock-throwers. Now, thanks to the growing power of Iran, Israel is surrounded by tens of thousands of short- and medium-range missiles. There are thousands in southern Lebanon, from which Israel withdrew in 2000 and which was subsequently occupied by Hizbullah. And there are hundreds, maybe thousands more in Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, and which was later taken over by Hamas. Israel, Netanyahu told Obama, has to be able to ensure that the West Bank won't also become an Iranian missile base following a peace settlement. The logic of his argument is hard to refute, from any reasonable standpoint. Who would contend that there is no danger that missiles would be smuggled to the new Palestinian state from the east, from Syria, Lebanon or Jordan? Is it reasonable to suppose that a UN peacekeeping force would suffice to protect the border, given the failure of such a force to stop smuggling to Lebanon? The Israeli leader is demonstrating that he has figured out a way to talk to a president who hasn't displayed much sentimentality when it comes to Israel. Forget about sentiment; make a good argument.

2010-07-08 08:11:23

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