Monday, May 23, 2011

Israel vs POTUS? No Contest!

It never ceases to amaze me the massive clout that Israel wields within American corridors of power. Remember this? Well, last week, when President Obama needed a reminder of who really runs things, the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was only too willing to oblige. Only he decided to do it in front of the assembled press corps following a tense meeting at the White House.

The trouble started when Obama had the gumption to suggest in a speech that mid-east peace negotiations be based a return to the 1967 "borders" with appropriate land swaps to cater for Israel's illegal "facts on Palestinian ground" more commonly known as settlements. Many would have thought this to be a rather generous offer, one that rewards the Israeli's bad behaviour and disregard for both international law and Palestinian's rights.

Obama was by no means breaking new ground. Ever since the Oslo Accords of 1982, negotiations have proceeded on a framework of land for peace i.e. the return of occupied land for a permanent peace. Occupied land, as described in UN resolution 242 of 1967, comprises territory taken by Israel following the Six Day War, including the West Bank, Gaza, Syria's Golan Heights and Egypt's Sinai (which was returned following the Camp David agreements).

Obama's "proposal" also enjoyed the immediate support of the Middle-East Quartet which brings together the UN, EU, Russia and the US. Following th speech, the Russian foreign ministry quickly issued a statement saying the grouping agrred that "progress in dealing with borders and security issues could eventually lead to a final resolution of the conflict."

However, Israel evidently didn't get the memo. A fuming Bibi berated the idea as based on illusions and made clear that he expected Obama to renew pledges made to Israel by his predecessor, George W. Bush. He claimed that the 1967 lines, from behind which Israel had conquered 3 Arab armies simultaneously in less than a week, were now "indefensible" and said Obama could not sweep certain facts -presumably settlements- under the carpet.

That set the scene for the post-summit joint appearance before the world's press. Obama went first, making reconciliatory noises about disagreements between friends and his commitment to Israel's security. Bibi however, was in no mood for niceties. He gave Obama what amounted to a public dressing down, lecturing him on the Jews terrible history of persecution -something Obama's African and Irish ancestors presumably knew nothing of.

Then he really got into his groove, saying it was time to tell Palestinian refugees that their much cherished right to return to the homes their parents and grandparents were kicked out of in what is now Israel, a right deemed inalienable by the admittedly non-binding UN General Assembly resolution 3236, was yet another illusion. Just moments prior to invoking the (one can only suppose extraordinarily long-living) Jewish people and their millenia long yearning for a return to Palestine, thus wiping out the area's future as an Arab region, he derided Palestinian's 63 year cry for Israel to "accept the grandchildren, really, and the great grandchildren of ... refugees, thereby wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state. It's not going to happen."

A craven Obama listened studiously, only summoning up the courage to correct Netanyahu once -when he referred to the 7 million Israelis as "a much smaller people" in comparison to the 310 million Americans. " A great people," Obama corrected him.

Of course it was not the first time he was being reminded who's boss. He's had plenty of lessons. During his campaign for the presidency, he was criticised for having the temerity to suggest that the US should actually be what it claims to be -an honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. After he made it to the White House, the notional leader of the free world was again reminded of the limits of his power after he attempted to get Israel to stop its illegal settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land. Needless to say, that is now a subject he steers well clear of.

So what are we to conclude? The mightiest nation on earth is not necessarily the brute with the brawn. It's the historically and geographically challenged state that controls the brute's head.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree, Obama should grow some balls and remind Isreal that they would cease to be an independent nation the moment the US decides that their national interests are no longer aligned