Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another point of view:A Further Note on U.S.-Israel Relations

Barry Rubin

A lot of nonsense has been written about the Obama Administration seeking or deliberately creating a crisis in U.S.-Israel relations. This has little or nothing to do with the actual events:

1. The crisis began with the announcement by a low-level Israeli committee about the future construction of apartments in east Jerusalem (yes, we know it wasn't deliberate, etc.) at the very moment when Vice-President Joe Biden was in the city and indirect Israel-Palestinian Authority talks were about to begin.

2. The U.S. government didn't seek a crisis, it neither planned nor wanted this problem.

3. The crisis gave the PA the excuse to walk out of negotiations the U.S. government had spent months in organizing. Without these indirect talks the administration looks like a fool.

4. The administration is now trying to bring the crisis to an end, with its goal being to lure the PA back into indirect talks by delivering unilateral Israeli concessions (and we understand why this won't work). If the administration had a choice there is no doubt it would have picked having no problem, getting the indirect talks going by now, and bragging about its alleged big success.

Any talk about some White House conspiracy or wider agenda here is just flat not in accord with the facts. It wants to keep the Israel-Palestinian issue relatively quiet and is willing to accept the appearance of progress without its reality. The U.S. government wants to keep its emphasis on Iraq, Afghanistan, and sanctions on Iran (which are about to be its next big failure).

Given its own interests, the administration doesn't want a confrontation with Israel nor is there any grand scheme going on.

Just ask yourselves a simple question. What does the Administration prefer:

A. A big mess with Israel that makes it look stupid and incompetent, ticks off a lot of Congress against the White House, kills the indirect negotiations which would be the only thing it has to show after fifteen months in office, and gives the PA a chance to wriggle out once again of doing anything.


B. A nice start to (meaningless but only we know that) indirect Israel-Palestinian talks with Obama looking like a great statesman, presiding over a lot of back and forth; the U.S. government says to the Arabs, see we are making great progress on peace; and telling the American people, You see! W are having lots of foreign policy successes.

Comment: Prof Rubin has been correct most of the time with his analysis and this is contrary to what other sources are reporting over here. I suppose we shall learn more in the coming days.

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