Will Obama impose a solution on Israel?

It is tempting, but wrong, to interpret the recent announcement that President Obama decided to stop pushing Israel into a new three-month settlement freeze as a sign of his contrition and realization that he was, all along, on the wrong track.  His claim that he needs to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so as to bring the Arabs on board to tackle Iran's nuclear drive was proven by the WikiLeaks to have been a patent lie -- the Arabs are on board already. This line of argument was nothing more than a shameful instance of "not letting a crisis go to waste" and using nuclear-driven Iran to blackmail Israel into unconscionable concessions to Palestinians.

Or how about his latest attempt to fool Israel into a new settlement freeze by promising -- orally via Secretary Clinton -- great bonanzas for agreeing, and yet backtracking when the Israelis called his game by suggesting that the deal be put in writing?

"Man is the only animal that blushes -- or needs to," observed Mark Twain, and President Obama has plenty to blush about. The problem of course is that President Obama isn't an animal of a blushing sort. He may have abandoned the tactic, but hardly his goals. Just because his attempt to push Israelis and Palestinians into face-to-face negotiations failed doesn't mean that Obama gave up on his promise to set up a Palestinian state within a year. Therefore, the hopes that he will just let go are not particularly well-grounded. One suspects that he will merely switch his tactics. Instead of aiming at what looks like an Israeli-Palestinian negotiated settlement, he will go for an America-imposed solution -- borders and all.

The first salvo of imposing the solution from the outside was fired last week when Brazil and Argentina announced their recognition of the independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. We do not know whether this was done with the connivance of the Obama administration (which, publicly at least, objected), or whether they did it on their own initiative -- as no relevant correspondence has been WikiLeaked. But the idea of an imposed solution is certainly in the air. Secretary Clinton is to give a major Middle East policy speech on Friday -- and we should listen carefully for such words as "bridging proposals" that are euphemisms for the "imposed solution."

Interestingly, from a purely political perspective, an attempt by Obama to coerce Israel may at this point of time serve Clinton far better than it would serve Obama. Politically, Obama won't gain much support -- apart from the J-street types -- if he embarks on such course of action, since an attempt to impose his will and vision on Israel will make him even less popular among American supporters of Israel than he is now, and will show him recklessly endangering the security of a key ally and thus dangerously imperiling America's own interests. And that would be a perfect thing for Clinton to exploit if she decides to mount a primary challenge to Obama -- if, as it gets closer to the elections, she concludes that Obama is un-re-electable. By challenging him in the primaries she would be saving the party from a defeat, the country from a Republican administration -- and, last but not least,  herself from the loss of all political power, for if Obama loses, she will lose too.

But to run in Democratic primaries, she would first need to quit her cabinet position -- and it would look much better if she did so because of a disagreement on some policy issue, rather than quitting just to run against her former boss and appearing rude and ungrateful. A break-up over Obama's Middle East policy would make for an ideal circumstance of leaving his cabinet and opposing him in primaries. It would make her look principled and responsible, rather than merely power-hungry and opportunistic.

Moreover, if this were her grounds for disagreeing with Obama, those Democrats who feel betrayed by Obama's Middle East policy (and there are plenty of Jewish Democrats who feel that way and are completely disheartened and dispirited), will enthusiastically rally around Clinton -- who at present is badly in need of rehabilitation in the same quarters, switching as she did from a staunch supporter of Israel during her tenure as a senator from New York, to Obama's chief Israel-basher in her current role of the Secretary of State.

Admittedly, all of the above is just an idle speculation. But one thing is clear. By the same token by which President Clinton was America's "first black president" and President George W. Bush was America's "first Jewish president," as Barbara Bush once half-jokingly addressed him -- by the token not of race or religion or ethnicity, but by that of innate sympathies, empathy, and instinctive leanings, President Obama is undoubtedly America's first Moslem president, wherein lies a great danger for Israel.

One can only hope that as Obama switches from the failed push to obtain Israeli-Palestinian consensus to, as one strongly suspects, dictating the terms to the parties, there will be found enough counterbalancing political forces in this country to block him from imposing a "solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would result in a disaster -- "solution" which, given the mindset of the parties to the Middle East conflict, may only inflame it further.
It is tempting, but wrong, to interpret the recent announcement that President Obama decided to stop pushing Israel into a new three-month settlement freeze as a sign of his contrition and realization that he was, all along, on the wrong track.  His claim that he needs to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so as to bring the Arabs on board to tackle Iran's nuclear drive was proven by the WikiLeaks to have been a patent lie -- the Arabs are on board already. This line of argument was nothing more than a shameful instance of "not letting a crisis go to waste" and using nuclear-driven Iran to blackmail Israel into unconscionable concessions to Palestinians.

Or how about his latest attempt to fool Israel into a new settlement freeze by promising -- orally via Secretary Clinton -- great bonanzas for agreeing, and yet backtracking when the Israelis called his game by suggesting that the deal be put in writing?

"Man is the only animal that blushes -- or needs to," observed Mark Twain, and President Obama has plenty to blush about. The problem of course is that President Obama isn't an animal of a blushing sort. He may have abandoned the tactic, but hardly his goals. Just because his attempt to push Israelis and Palestinians into face-to-face negotiations failed doesn't mean that Obama gave up on his promise to set up a Palestinian state within a year. Therefore, the hopes that he will just let go are not particularly well-grounded. One suspects that he will merely switch his tactics. Instead of aiming at what looks like an Israeli-Palestinian negotiated settlement, he will go for an America-imposed solution -- borders and all.

The first salvo of imposing the solution from the outside was fired last week when Brazil and Argentina announced their recognition of the independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. We do not know whether this was done with the connivance of the Obama administration (which, publicly at least, objected), or whether they did it on their own initiative -- as no relevant correspondence has been WikiLeaked. But the idea of an imposed solution is certainly in the air. Secretary Clinton is to give a major Middle East policy speech on Friday -- and we should listen carefully for such words as "bridging proposals" that are euphemisms for the "imposed solution."

Interestingly, from a purely political perspective, an attempt by Obama to coerce Israel may at this point of time serve Clinton far better than it would serve Obama. Politically, Obama won't gain much support -- apart from the J-street types -- if he embarks on such course of action, since an attempt to impose his will and vision on Israel will make him even less popular among American supporters of Israel than he is now, and will show him recklessly endangering the security of a key ally and thus dangerously imperiling America's own interests. And that would be a perfect thing for Clinton to exploit if she decides to mount a primary challenge to Obama -- if, as it gets closer to the elections, she concludes that Obama is un-re-electable. By challenging him in the primaries she would be saving the party from a defeat, the country from a Republican administration -- and, last but not least,  herself from the loss of all political power, for if Obama loses, she will lose too.

But to run in Democratic primaries, she would first need to quit her cabinet position -- and it would look much better if she did so because of a disagreement on some policy issue, rather than quitting just to run against her former boss and appearing rude and ungrateful. A break-up over Obama's Middle East policy would make for an ideal circumstance of leaving his cabinet and opposing him in primaries. It would make her look principled and responsible, rather than merely power-hungry and opportunistic.

Moreover, if this were her grounds for disagreeing with Obama, those Democrats who feel betrayed by Obama's Middle East policy (and there are plenty of Jewish Democrats who feel that way and are completely disheartened and dispirited), will enthusiastically rally around Clinton -- who at present is badly in need of rehabilitation in the same quarters, switching as she did from a staunch supporter of Israel during her tenure as a senator from New York, to Obama's chief Israel-basher in her current role of the Secretary of State.

Admittedly, all of the above is just an idle speculation. But one thing is clear. By the same token by which President Clinton was America's "first black president" and President George W. Bush was America's "first Jewish president," as Barbara Bush once half-jokingly addressed him -- by the token not of race or religion or ethnicity, but by that of innate sympathies, empathy, and instinctive leanings, President Obama is undoubtedly America's first Moslem president, wherein lies a great danger for Israel.

One can only hope that as Obama switches from the failed push to obtain Israeli-Palestinian consensus to, as one strongly suspects, dictating the terms to the parties, there will be found enough counterbalancing political forces in this country to block him from imposing a "solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would result in a disaster -- "solution" which, given the mindset of the parties to the Middle East conflict, may only inflame it further.

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