By Shimon Z. Klein

As expected, apart from some understandings between the two leaders no progress in any direction was made. Netanyahu’s world view, especially regarding Israel, is one sided and not conducive to change. He does not give any indication that he will accept the two-state solution.

 The undertones of the meeting with President Obama were Netanyahu’s attempt to steer away from the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and discuss the danger of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It is obvious that this tactic is to postpone discussions on this issue as much as possible.

 The meeting between President Obama and PM Netanyahu was cordial but a failure. Netanyahu’s obsessive harping on the Iranian nuclear issue rather than focusing on a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict was so shallow and annoying. He failed to see the importance of a settlement to the conflict as strengthening the US hand in getting an agreement with the Arab states who also feel threatened by Iran no less than Israel. If Iran succeeds in her plans of developing nuclear weapons, the Palestinians will be under nuclear threat as well. Their proximity to Israel makes this obvious. Unfortunately, the enemy of Israel is a friend to the Palestinians and this is the case of Iran in its attitude to the Palestinians, especially to Hamas.   

However Netanyahu has other priorities – the denial of the Palestinians’ right to an independent state alongside Israel as well as continuation of the vile occupation. The removal of tiny one-horse settlements by Defense Minister Ehud Barak is cosmetic – a sop to Obama and the world. It is a mask for continuation of the occupation. Defense Minister Barak and his two-faced Labor Party are full partners because they are an integral part of Netanyahu’s right wing coalition. Labor has lost its scruples and has destroyed humane left wing Zionism. This party is ceasing to be relevant and has become insignificant. Zionism is the monopoly of the right wing occupation protagonists today. Solving the conflict is the key to forming a wide coalition against the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel. It would strengthen the formation of a US-Arab-Israeli coalition against the danger of Iran and its brand of colonialism. The Saudi Peace Plan with Israel would be easier to implement and is in the interests of all who seek peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu has failed to grasp this. He is keen to satisfy his macabre racist right wing coalition partners and hold on to power rather than serve the wider interests of peace in the Middle East.  

The occupation weakens Israel’s position and while this continues, Iran’s Ahmadinajad will have an excuse to continue his nuclear program. None so blind as those who will not see. This is obvious and Netanyahu is putting the cart before the horse by punting for neutralizing Iran’s nuclear threat without solving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by maintaining the occupation. This is bound to fail and will blacklist Israel as the polecat colonizer of Palestinians by maintaining the occupation and usurping Palestinian lands. This will carve up the occupied territories, creating a situation that declaration of an independent Palestinian state will be a logistic impossibility. 

Netanyahu has his right wing coalition partners to satisfy in sticking to his guns by not even giving a thought to the two-state solution. According to press reports, it was not even discussed in talks with Obama. Obama is no Bush. He is using different tactics and this could lead to cooling off of relations between Israel and the US. Bush was apathetic towards the conflict during his term as president apart from a late awakening towards the end of his presidential term and his contribution to ending the conflict was close to ground zero. Meanwhile Netanyahu will be marking time in order to avoid the prickly issue of a possible uprooting of settlements to make way for the establishment of a future Palestinian state. By playing the game of postponing the inevitable, Netanyahu has achieved two purposes:

  1. No decisions made on ceasing settlement activity in the occupied territories thus avoiding a coalition crisis in his government.
  2. By avoiding final decisions that would jeopardize Israel’s relationship with the US.

 It is always easy to decide not to decide and this Netanyahu tactic achieves what Netanyahu wants – a continuation of the status quo. It also allows the right wing coalition to continue settlement activity with relative little interference from the US. In this way new facts are established on the ground making the establishment of a future Palestinian state impossible to achieve. On the Palestinian side, there is no unity between Hamas and Fatah. This works to Israel’s advantage. Israel states that they have no negotiating partner on the Palestinian track. Hamas being a terrorist organization is not willing under any circumstances to negotiate with Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist. This suits the Netanyahu Government down to the ground and so the two-state deadlock remains unsolved due to lack of Palestinian unity on this issue. Obama for his part has a broader world view than his predecessor Bush. He sees Israel as part of the solution to the conflict and that it is in the interests of the US to have peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Without this peace, the Iranian nuclear threat will remain.

Therefore it is essential that Netanyahu fall into line with Obama on this issue even to risk the right wing coalition crisis. If he fails in this, Israel will become the pole cat of the world and will continue to be viewed as an occupying and colonizing power.

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