Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Leader Of The Opposition

Secretary Clinton is tying up our traffic with her motorcade, but is otherwise getting things going here. She might have announced, as some of us had hoped, that she was reviving the 2000 "Clinton parameters"--and has not. But she's done the next best thing, stating four positions in 24 hours, each important in themselves, but also code every Israeli understands, policy positions that directly oppose what Benjamin Netanyahu (and the rightist parties bound for his coalition) ran on.

First, Clinton said that the immediate priority is to get to a cease-fire in Gaza, and she's helped raise $4.4 billion for Gaza reconstruction. She and Obama have also reportedly received a letter from Hamas through Senator Kerry, and has been quietly encouraging talks that might lead to a "unity" Palestinian government. Clinton is, appropriately, condemning the continuing missile attacks, but has also emphasized the need to get the border open. Translation: America will not support a new attack on Gaza, ostensibly for the purpose of changing the regime there.

Second, Clinton's announced that American diplomats were going to proceed to Damascus, and she's emphasized the need to create a regional alliance to counter a possible Iranian threat. Not coincidentally, while she's been in Jerusalem, President Obama's letter to Russia's Medvedev (suggesting a shelving of missile defense in return for help on Iranian nukes) was leaked. Translation: America will deal with Iran diplomatically and will not tolerate any preemptive military strike by Israel.

Third, Clinton contradicted Netanyahu's idea that an economic peace could lay the ground for a political settlement some time in the future, emphasizing (correctly,) that there can be no economic take-off in Palestine without a political settlement--also that Abbas' Palestinian Authority, weakened as it is, is peace's "partner." Translation: America will not tolerate delay in pursuing a two-state solution; that the inertia of the status quo, in effect, plays right into the hands of Hamas, on the one hand, and the settlers, on the other.

Fourth, and perhaps most daring, Clinton announced American opposition to planned house demolitions in Jerusalem as contravening Senator Mitchell's Roadmap--demolitions (as I've written about before) in Silwan. Translation: America regards East Jerusalem as part of a future Palestinian state, and further Israeli efforts at prejudicing Arab residency in Jerusalem as incendiary.

CLINTON'S MEETING WITH Tzipi Livni was, in contrast, all smiles and winks. Livni's Kadima is not the party of peace, exactly, but it is the party of America--of continuing globalization--of preventing Israel's political isolation. In Tel-Aviv, centrist Kadima and the parties to its left defeated the rightists by a margin of about 60 to 40 percent. In Jerusalem, the rightist parties defeated the center by a margin of about 80 to 20 percent. This is the fight; the rest is commentary.

Incidentally--and apropos commentary--the word "rightist" in this post (and in almost every other analysis of the situation) can be a little misleading. Some of my friends in America asked me if it does not feel like 2004, when Bush was narrowly reelected. A better (though hardly perfect) comparison would be to America electing in 1964--after the Kennedy assassination, as the Cold War and Vietnam intensified, and before the country was chastened by the civil rights movement--a government led by Richard Nixon, with a cabinet of George Wallace, Curtis LeMay, Billy Graham, and, strangely, Cardinal Spellman. Oh, and there is no Warren Court because there is no real Bill of Rights, the subject of a future post.

Anyway, Israel is a city-state, not a super-power. And the leader of Netanyahu's opposition is now in Washington.


Bill Burns said...

Why would anyone think there's going to be an economic takeoff in Palestine at a time when large sections of the global economy are collapsing?

Y. Ben-David said...

I can only repeat what I stated before......the government in power for the last 3 years was NOT a "government of the extreme-right", it was "not a government of the settlers", it was a "Peace" government in which all the "negative elements" (as you see them) in Israel were shut out. Did they achieve peace? No, they gave us TWO wars in three years instead. Hillary can insist all she wants on the "2-state" solution but even if her master, Obama, weighs in himself, it won't matter BECAUSE IT IS THE ARAB SIDE THAT DOESN'T WANT PEACE. They are now lavishing billions of dollars in aid on the Palestinians so what incentive do the Palestinians now have to endanger themselves by making the unpopular concessions needed to reach an agreement (e.g. give up the "right of return"). By giving them the money unconditionally, the US and EU have given up whatever leverage they could have used to pressure the Palestinians. Now Abbas can pocket the cash and still go down in history as the man who stood firm against Zionist and American pressure to give up what is most dear to the Palestinians. You "progressives" want peace so you twist reality around and then attribute this same motive to the Palestinians. They don't have it, so there is no chance of there being a contractual peace agreement.
By giving the money this way, in effect the Americans are RATIFYING Netanyahu's "economic peace" plan even if they say it is not enough. They are trying to change the situation on the ground and believe that by improving the Palestinians standard of living, that they will be creating a constituency for a true peace agreement. Whether this will work or not is another question.

Y. Ben-David said...

Here is a good explanation of why Dr Avishai's "Hebrew Republic" could never be a viable state and why it would only be a re-creation of the Medieval Crusader state:

YMedad said...

" the party of America -- of continuing globalization -- of preventing Israel's political isolation".


Wouldn't a heightened process of globalization make Israel disappear? At the least, it would depoliticize Israel as a state but retain the Jewish genius for commercial success and economic enterprise, sort of like England's "the King's Jews"?

Moshe said...

Something's rotting in Denmark. Is it only me that wonders why the western states negotiate Arab positions more fearse-fully than do the Arab states themselves? Settler Freeze they west demands of Israel. But Jews remember the colonial White Paper of 1939 and also called for a freezing of Jewish settlements.

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