Obama and Israel

“The [Israeli] Prime Minister rejected full Palestinian statehood, instead saying “we would like this to be an entity which is less than a state.” He rejected withdrawing to the 1967 lines, declaring, “the borders of the State of Israel, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.”

“The Prime Minister rejected any division of Jerusalem or creation of a Palestinian capital there. He called for a “united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev—as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty.” He also demanded that other major communities over the 1967 lines, some quite far over the 1967 lines, be retained as part of Israel, including Gush Etzion, Efrat, and Beitar.”

“The Prime Minister even rejected an eventual Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank, insisting on retaining a presence in the Jordan Valley, which forms the border between the West Bank and Jordan. “The security border of the State of Israel,” he declared, “will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.”

“The year was 1995, the Prime Minister was Yitzhak Rabin (of the Labor party), the president was Bill Clinton, and the speech was to Israel’s Knesset—and it was delivered in the midst of peace negotiations. Rabin was assassinated several weeks later.”

I pulled the above from an article that recently appeared in the Weekly Standard.  This highlights what I mentioned to some people last week, that even if Herzog (who I would have liked to see win) had won the election last week, I believe it would have been highly unlikely Herzog, or any other Israeli leader for that matter, at this time, would be giving back land to the Palestinians given the current conditions that now exist in Israel, America and in the Middle East.

Like much that goes on in the world, this is something that Obama failed to grasp. Since he came to office, Obama is as much responsible as any other person for killing a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian, if not more so. His utter lack of understating of Israelis, Arabs and the region is quite baffling. He came into office with a big ego and little knowledge, and the peace process, like much of his foreign policy, has been an absolute disaster.

Obama made a major blunder right off the bat when he called for the halt by Israel of construction of settlement building as a “pre-condition” to negotiations with the Palestinians.  This demand was made almost immediately after Obama came to office. Yes, a majority people around the world believe that settlement building should be stopped, but to make it a pre-condition to even start negotiations was just plain stupid. Why didn’t he call for a halt in rocket fire (which was happening regularly at that time) from Gaza as a pre-condition as well?  Or why didn’t he call for Palestinians to drop their demand for a right of return as a pre-condition?  Obama picked one of many outstanding issues and made that the focus of the whole peace process. He should have known that the Israelis would never go for that and would probably react the way they did. Instead Obama should have called for immediate negotiations with no pre-conditions. Leaving everything on the table. That’s how you get two sides together, get them to the table and respect each of their issues.

This is just one example, but there is a long list of blunders Obama has made. One of the more important being the abandoning of long time allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia in favor of Qatar and Iran. Nobody in that region trusts Obama.

The only thing Obama is actually good at doing is giving speeches, campaigning and unleashing unrelenting vindictive media blitzes against anyone that dare contradict him.   His current target is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While Obama is concerned solely with establishing his legacy, Netanyahu is concerned with the survival of his country.

After failing miserably at achieving an Israeli/Palestinian peace deal, allowing Putin to invade and take over another country, allowing Iraq to fall back into chaos, allowing China to further flout international trade norms and allowing the emergence of an Islamic Fundamentalist group that is more radical than even al-Qaeda to gain large swaths of territory, the only thing Obama can do to try and achieve an international legacy is to sign some sort of nuclear deal with Iran. And Obama doesn’t care if it is a good deal or a bad deal, he just wants  any deal that he can point to once he leaves office.  A major obstacle to getting this deal done is Netanyahu, so Obama has gone on the offensive.

The Obama administration has distorted Netanyahu’s election campaign rhetoric and is leading a campaign to discredit him, even after the Israelis rejected Obama in favor of Netanyahu.  The latest charge is that Israel spied on America as reported by the Wall Street Journal. But a recent interview with that same reporter on NPR was quite enlightening. The reporter detailed that Israel was not spying on America, but rather spied on Iran, and through such spying, gained information of the Iranian nuclear negotiations that involved America and the other countries involved in those discussions.  That reporter went on to clarify that it was actually America that was spying on Israel, and this is how America found out that Israel was spying on Iran.  It’s a clear cut case of  the pot calling the kettle black.  Once again, Israel spying on an enemy and Obama spying on an ally, just as Obama did with Germany and the UK a few years back. It is Israel that should be outraged.

It was also recently reported that during the Israeli elections, the anti-Netanyahu election organization, V15, was guided by Obama political strategist Jeremy Bird. It was further reported that Obama and his allies were pushing hard to defeat Netanyahu, were moving large sums of money into the race and great efforts were made to organize the Israeli Arabs into one unified party and help them get out the Arab vote.  This was not some mere outside meddling; this was a case of Obama directly getting involved in the Israeli election through funding and grass roots campaigning.

Here is a fact that Obama doesn’t understand; a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is not about borders as much as it is about security.  The borders of an eventual Palestinian state were essentially decided back in Oslo in 1993, re-affirmed by Barak in 2000, Sharon in 2005 and Olmert in 2007.  Why did Israel return the Sinai to Egypt but not the Golan to Syria?  It’s simple, security. From the gorgeous resorts on the Red Sea to the site where Moses received the Ten Commandments, the Sinai holds both economic and religious importance. But it wasn’t about the land, it was about security and the Sinai is a long, relatively flat desert, which provided ample space between the Egyptian army and the Israeli border. The Golan on the other hand is a mountainous region that sits directly on top of Israel and has very little religious importance. But it is an area that used to allow the Syrian army to lob missiles right down on Israeli homes before 1967.  Imagine if Israel did not control part of the Golan during the current conflict in Syria. Israel would have Hezbollah, Iran, Al-Qaeda and ISIS raining down bombs on them right now.

Much has been made by Obama that Netanyahu is against a two state solution now, but that is a misrepresentation of the facts. Netanyahu was making the point that as things stand now, a peace deal is not possible. Four criteria are needed for peace under Netanyahu, Herzog or any Israeli leader, and until these criteria are met, unfortunately there will probably not be a peace deal:

1) Obama is out of office. Forget Netanyahu, the Israeli people don’t trust Obama. The Israeli’s loved Bill Clinton, they hate Obama. I lived in Israel when Clinton was in office and the Israelis would have loved him to be their president. Trust in America is going to be massive to getting a deal done between the Israelis and the Palestinians. People in America don’t trust Obama, so why should the Israelis.

2) The Palestinians need to find true leadership who can speak for all the Palestinian people. Right now they do not have a Ben-Gurion, a Ghandi, a Mandela. Hell, they don’t even have an Arafat.

3) There needs to be some sort of livable solution for Israel in the current Iran nuclear deal.

4) The wars raging in Iraq, Syria and now Yemen die down. And oh yes, Obama abandoned another ally and now Iran and their proxies have taken over Yemen, which just caused the Saudi army to move in today. The whole region is one big powder keg.

About the Author
Ari Ingel is an international attorney, director of a non-profit and foreign policy analyst. Follow him on twitter at
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