A cold peace

"A cold peace" Continued...

Issue: "Maximum insecurity," Feb. 23, 2013

While far from being a “hawk,” Lapid has distanced himself from the left and voiced his support for the settlement blocs. Last October, he delivered a foreign policy speech in Ariel, a controversial settlement 12 miles into the West Bank. “There is no map on which Ariel is not a part of the State of Israel,” Lapid said. “You don’t come to negotiations only with an olive branch, the way the left does, or only with a gun, the way the right does. You come to find solutions. We’re not looking for a happy marriage with the Palestinians, but for a divorce agreement we can live with.”

Prior to the November U.S. election, the Middle East Forum’s Daniel Pipes predicted “the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president” should Obama get reelected. This era has begun, he noted, citing the nominations of three senior figures—John Kerry for secretary of state, John Brennan for the CIA, and Chuck Hagel for defense—who “range from clueless about Israel to hostile toward it.”

Kerry has labeled the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the root cause of turmoil in the Middle East and Africa—a notion Netanyahu staunchly rebuffs—and is already suggesting renewed talks in the near future.

Pipes adds to his list of concerns the president’s recent approval to give advanced weapons to Egypt’s Islamist government (whose newly elected president referred to Jews and Israelis as descendants of apes and pigs in 2010) and past connections to notable Palestinian extremists. He finds little fault with Obama’s first-term policy decisions pertaining to Israel but warns of stormy days ahead.

“I think it has mostly to do with Obama finding his inner anti-Zionist. If anything, it appears that Netanyahu is moving more leftwards, more accommodating to Obama rather than less. But I have a sense that Obama is deeply sympathetic to the Palestinians and has had to bury this for electoral reasons and now is free to indulge it,” Pipes told me.

If this is the case, Obama may have substantial support among world powers for his Middle East agenda. A recent report on human rights released by the British Foreign Office includes Israel on a list of 28 countries of concern, alongside notable offenders Iran and Bahrain. Illegal settlement construction and the recent Gaza escalation topped the list of alleged offenses.

The Palestinian Authority has threatened to take its complaints about Israel to the International Criminal Court.

Both Pipes and Singer pointed to the looming issue they say trumps all others and has the potential either to unite the two leaders or drive them further apart: Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu has made Iran his signature cause, and President Obama has pledged to prevent the rogue nation from obtaining nuclear weapon capabilities.

Whether the two countries can agree on what to do about the Iranian problem remains to be seen. “The United States has said that it’s absolutely determined that Iran not get nuclear weapons,” Singer said. “Well, this is the four years that will determine if they do.” We know this much for certain: It promises to be an interesting four years.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Troubling ties

    Under the Clinton State Department, influence from big money…