maandag 25 mei 2009

Analyses van ontmoeting Obama en Netanyahu

Een analyse van de ontmoeting tussen Obama en Netanjahoe, door Barry Rubin, die het vooral voor Netanjahoe opneemt, en door Ami Isseroff, die op beiden het nodige aan te merken heeft.
Barry Rubin heeft in een ander artikel vooral Obama besproken. Een van zijn centrale punten is dat de verschillen kleiner zijn dan zowel anti-zionisten als rechtse zionisten beweren. De eersten hopen dat Obama nu eindelijk Israel eens zal 'aanpakken', de tweede klagen over de kritische houding tegenover Israel, en zijn bang dat hij het tot extreme concessies zal dwingen die een zeker einde van de staat betekenen.

Son of Barry Rubin's analysis of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting

Yes folks, this is the exciting sequel to Barry Rubin on Obama-Netanyahu meeting,
Rubin is absolutely right to point out that there is no evidence of a huge rift between Israel and the United States. Pro-Israel pundits have lined up to insist the meeting was a catastrophe for Israel, and to mourn the supposed break between Israel and the United States. Anti-Israel pundits have lined up behind them to gloat about the break between  Israel and the United States. But there is no evidence whatever that any such break took place. Leaders who hold a joint press conference are not doing it because there is a break between them.
Nonetheless  the meeting, at least the public part, was not all that it should have been, and some of the aftermath was not too promising either. We do not know what was said in private, but what was said in public was not all that it should be.
What was missing:
Iran - The plan for Iran seems to be to not have a plan. That's unacceptable. Obama said the US would probably reassess the appease-Iran policy at the end of the year, but that will be too late to stop Iran's nuclear program with sanctions. Sanctions take months to organize and years to take effect. The Arab states can't be happy about that either.  
Hezbollah - Some of you might remember this organization and their colorful leader Hassan Nasrallah. Less than three years ago, Israel found it necessary to fight a war against them - the Second Lebanon War. They may be about to win an election in Lebanon. They are proteges of Iran. If Obama and Netanyahu have any opinions about how to stop them from taking over Lebanon, they aren't saying.
Syria - All mention of this country seemed to have been absent from the discussion as well.
Palestinian Issues - While Barack Obama was quite specific about what Israel needed to do to meet its obligations, he was vague about the Palestinians. There was no explicit condemnation of the Hamas, a genocidal organization that declares over and over that it is intent on destroying Israel and will never recognize Israel. Realistically, there can be no peace while Hamas rules in Gaza, and if the Fatah-Hamas unity talks ever succeed, that will be the end of any prospect for peace with the Palestinian Authority. There was no mention of "moderate"  Palestinian Authority attempts to delegitimize Israel and to distort and remake history, in order to write out the Jewish people in the land of Israel, as though our ancestors were never here, never lived in Jerusalem before 1948, never had a capital in ancient ("Arab East") Jerusalem.
There was no explicit demand by Obama that the Palestinians or Arabs recognize Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. The Arab refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination is at the heart of the conflict. Unless that problem is addressed, we haven't moved beyond 1920.
Netanyahu: What was missing from Benjamin Netanyahu was
1)  A statement supporting a two state solution. Netanyahu did everything but endorse a two state solution, and therefore got all of the disadvantages of concessions, with none of the advantages. The foreign press, in which we may have to include Ha'aretz, will go on noting pointedly that  the "right-leaning" government of Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to support a two-state solution, making it look as though  Israel is the villain holding up the peace process.
2) A clear statement of Israel's red lines - all of them, put on record in the presence of the President of the United States. If  Israel is not going to give up East Jerusalem or admit Palestinian refugees, that was the time to say it. Bibi did raise the demand for Arab recognition of a Jewish state.
3) A pro-active peace plan that would put the pressure on the Arab side to deliver concessions, as well as giving Obama a "prize" to take to the Arabs.  
After the meeting:
What happened around the meeting and after it was fairly hostile. CIA director Leon Panetta was sent to warn Israel not to attack Iran, sending a loud and clear public "all clear" signal to Iran. Secretary of State Clinton loudly and publicly warned Israel to freeze settlement activity. That is her right. But when all the warnings all the time are directed only to one party, and there is no warning to Palestinians to stop incitement and stop claiming that all of Israel belongs to the Palestinians, no warning to stop firing rockets from Gaza and smuggling arms, it really does look to the world as if the only obstacle to peace is Israel.  
There is no break between Israel and the United States, but that is in large part a reflection of the style of Barack Obama. Obama tries mightily to be a friend of everyone and to exhibit unity on all fronts. He went to Europe and got rebuffed on every side, and came back smiling. There is probably never going to be a break between Obama and anyone, if he can help it. The dirty work will be done by underlings. In Obama's upcoming speech to the Muslim world, look for a lot of style and not much substance. That's where Obama's emphasis is, on the premise that a smile costs nothing and takes less muscles than a frown. It's a good policy, and Barack Obama has a magnetic smile.
But if nothing is done about Iran, we may all be buried with a smile on our faces.
Ami Isseroff

Detailed Analysis of Obama-Netanyahu Meeting/Part 2: What Netanyahu Said

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Obviously, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's job was to make a good impression including the flattery of President Barack Obama. He thus thanked him:

"For your friendship to Israel and your friendship to me. You're a great leader--a great leader of the United States, a great leader of the world, a great friend of Israel, and someone who is acutely cognizant of our security concerns. And the entire people of Israel appreciate it, and I speak on their behalf."

But this is more than flattery. Netanyahu is defining him as a great leader in part because he is a great friend of Israel. In other words, he is locking him in on his commitments to what Obama called an "extraordinary relationship." This is the standard which the American president has set for the relationship and Netanyahu will hold him to it.

He also wants to define common interests: "We share the same goals and we face the same threats." This happens to be true though it may take some time for Obama to recognize it.

Netanyahu also wants to stake out his own identity as a peacemaker:

"The common goal is peace. Everybody in Israel, as in the United States, wants peace. The common threat we face are terrorist regimes and organizations that seek to undermine the peace and endanger both our peoples."

But how is peace to be obtained? Who is the common enemy?

A. The Iran issue

"In this context, the worst danger we face is that Iran would develop nuclear military capabilities. Iran openly calls for our destruction, which is unacceptable by any standard. It threatens the moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East. It threatens U.S. interests worldwide. But if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it could give a nuclear umbrella to terrorists, or worse, it could actually give terrorists nuclear weapons. And that would put us all in great peril."

This is broadening out the threat beyond Israel to encompass U.S. interests and those of moderate Arab regimes,
as I have long argued.

So Netanyahu reinforced what he wanted to, without mentioning the engagement part:

"So in that context, I very much appreciate, Mr. President, your firm commitment to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear military capability, and also your statement that you're leaving all options on the table."

B. Israel-Palestinian Negotiations

On this issue, Netanyahu stressed his eagerness to cooperate, his "desire to move the peace process forward." Indeed, he was ready to move very fast: "And I want to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately. I would like to broaden the circle of peace to include others in the Arab world, if we could…."

Here came Netanyahu's most quoted lines, which should be quoted fully:

"I want to make it clear that we don't want to govern the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with them. We want them to govern themselves, absent a handful of powers that could endanger the state of Israel. And for this there has to be a clear goal. The goal has to be an end to conflict. There will have to be compromises by Israelis and Palestinians alike. We're ready to do our share. We hope the Palestinians will do their share, as well. If we resume negotiations, as we plan to do, then I think that the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; will have to also enable Israel to have the means to defend itself. And if those conditions are met, Israel's security conditions are met, and there's recognition of Israel's legitimacy, its permanent legitimacy, then I think we can envision an arrangement where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in dignity, in security, and in peace."

Here is Netanyahu's view of the two-state solution. If the Palestinians meet Israeli conditions, then there will be the "side by side" arrangement Obama has raised.

This is critical: a two-state solution is not something given as a present at the beginning of negotiations, it is a reward for the proper compromises that enable such a peace to succeed.

That is the key point of the Israeli position, regarding not just Netanyahu but in practice across much of the political spectrum.

Netanyahu fully recognizes the interrelationship of issues and says both are important:

"It would help, obviously, unite a broad front against Iran if we had peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And conversely, if Iran went nuclear, it would threaten the progress towards peace and destabilize the entire area, and threaten existing peace agreement."

And so he concludes, "We see exactly eye to eye on this—that we want to move simultaneously and then parallel on two fronts: the front of peace, and the front of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear capability."

Many might view this as papering over differences but it really isn't. The point Netanyahu makes is that the two countries agree in principle whatever differences there are on details. And after all, this is the same basic position Obama has stated, though there is a bit of reversal on apparent priorities.

And then Netanyahu raises another key Israeli point: It is quite possible to make things far worse:

"If we end up with another Gaza -- the President has described to you there's rockets falling out of Gaza -- that is something we don't want to happen, because a terror base next to our cities that doesn't call -- recognize Israel's existence and calls for our destruction and asks for our destruction is not arguing peace.

"If, however, the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, if they -- if they fight terror, if they educate their children for peace and to a better future, then I think we can come at a substantive solution that allows the two people to live side by side in security and peace and I add prosperity, because I'm a great believer in this."

What is the point, after all, of pushing through a two-state solution which:

--Makes Palestine a radical Islamist state tied to Iran and Syria.

--Creates a Palestine in which every school, mosque, and media institution teaches Palestinians that all of Israel is theirs and they must strive to conquer it. This would be a Palestine full of incitement to violence against Israelis which will inspire scores of people to become terrorists and thousands of others to support them.

--Sets off a new Israel-Palestine cross-border war, with the Palestine government either looking the other way or actively assisting terrorists.

--Creates a Palestine that invites in Iranian, Syrian, or other armies, or gets missiles from them targeted at Israeli cities.

--Extends the conflict another generation by using the state as a base for a "second stage" to finish off Israel.
And if Israel were to take risks and make concessions will they be reciprocated? And if the United States and Europe makes promises to Israel will they be kept?

After all, the 1990s' peace process taught Israelis the answer was "no" on both counts.

This is Israel's central point: peace, yes, but only a real, lasting, and stable situation which makes things better rather than worse.

A two-state solution only if it isn't a two-mistake anti-solution.


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to His blog, Rubin Reports is at


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