Second thoughts on the White House meeting: Netanyahu’s mistake

Posted: May 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

This morning, I posted an analysis of the latest diplomatic developments, titled “Obama finally confronts Netanyahu, but to what end?” The more I think and read about it, I get the feeling that I got at least some of the story wrong. Looking back on the events of the last couple of days, I don’t thing the president was really trying to confront Netanyahu. Yes, he accepted some of the State Department’s thoughts on the need to present a peace plan, but he didn’t go all the way with it, he didn’t say anything that should have embarrassed Jerusalem, and he was pretty hard on the Palestinians.

I actually believe now that Obama was trying to show Netanyahu a way to oppose the Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence. In outlining the path to the two-state solution, Obama was clearly aiming to the Israeli consensus. His plan was all too similar to the ideas former Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak put forward – one could even argue that Olmert went a little further on some issues.

The problem was that Netanyahu overreacted—and not for the first time. The Israeli PM responded to the president’s speech with an aggressive statement, and he kept the same tone after the meeting with Obama. Americans don’t like to see their president schooled this way, and even some of the PM’s supporters in the US were surprised, even angered, by his choice of words.

The fact that the Israeli and American positions are not that far from each other, and yet they brought such clash between the two leaders, show the degree of mistrust and the lack of coordination between Washington and Jerusalem right now. Netanyahu can only blame himself for that.

I wonder whether Netanyahu is beginning to realize the mistake he made. It would be interesting to see what effect this would have on his next two speeches in Washington.


2 Comments on “Second thoughts on the White House meeting: Netanyahu’s mistake”

  1. 1 maayan said at 5:03 am on May 22nd, 2011:

    “Looking back on the events of the last couple of days, I don’t thing the president was really trying to confront Netanyahu. Yes, he accepted some of the State Department’s thoughts on the need to present a peace plan, but he didn’t go all the way with it, he didn’t say anything that should have embarrassed Jerusalem, and he was pretty hard on the Palestinians.”

    I’m a little surprised at this perspective. Obama did not reiterate Olmert or Barak’s views and certainly not Netanyahu’s. Obama also didn’t accept the Bush letter’s premise of no return to ’67 lines.

    Instead, Obama gave the Europeans permission to move forward with supporting whatever the Palestinians want in September (we’ve already seen this with the UN, the Quartet and EU countries all expressing support for Obama’s speech’s proposals) , thereby essentially guaranteeing that Israel has no leverage left to prevent anything in September and giving the Palestinians the ability to move forward at will with whatever plan they have in mind without giving up anything in return. After all, you don’t need to discuss refugees or Jerusalem now, you just need to eliminate Israel’s right to negotiate borders. That’s what Obama did and he did it on purpose. He can say that you don’t negotiate with Hamas because he eliminated the need for negotiations.

  2. 2 maayan said at 1:34 pm on May 22nd, 2011:

    I think it’s safe to say, after Obama’s AIPAC speech today, that although he said nothing to adjust the thinking about leaving talks about refugees and Jerusalem to later, he did respond to Netanyahu’s statements about ’67 lines being impossible for Israel by essentially saying he didn’t really mean ’67 lines.