Obama's Visit to Reset Relations with Israel

(Jerusalem Post) Herb Keinon - Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, said that the relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "started off on the wrong foot" four years ago due to "assumptions that were moving in the political systems of both countries." One of the assumptions in Washington, Gold said, was that the sides were just a hairbreadth away from an agreement, and with just a little push they could be pushed over the ledge to an agreement. When Netanyahu met Obama in the Oval Office in May 2009, the president linked Iran and the Palestinian issue, saying that progress on the Palestinian track would make it easier to enlist the Arab world in getting behind efforts to stop Iran. Netanyahu took the opposite approach: First, neutralize Iran's nuclear program - thereby dismissing Tehran's ability to gain hegemony in the region - and then it will be much easier to deal with the Palestinians. As long as Iran felt that it was riding high in the saddle in the region, it would never let a diplomatic process get off the ground, and it had two players it could send onto the field to gum up the works whenever it wanted: Hamas and Hizbullah. There was another major conceptual difference regarding the Palestinians. Obama, at the time, was under the sway of those who felt that if Israel would just give a little more, concede a little more land, then peace would be attainable. Netanyahu, however, said the land for peace equation never worked in the past - not in Lebanon, nor in Gaza - and there was no reason to believe it would work now. As time passed and reality began to bite, the gaps in these conceptual differences began to narrow. Few in the administration still believe that solving the Palestinian issue would impact on efforts to stop Iran, and many in Washington have been disabused of the notion that a settlement freeze will bring about gestures from the Arab world leading to a comprehensive agreement. No one is there anymore. As the conceptual gaps narrowed, the tensions between the two governments lessened.

2013-03-20 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive