With Mitchell back to talk to Bibi in two weeks time, there’s talk that Netanyahu may give in to US pressure and “temporarily” freeze settlement expansion (as he defines it to mean construction – I assume and hope our wives won’t be required to undergo abortions as George Mitchell understands ‘Natural Growth’).
Israel administration officials have been mentioning more and more lately that the US can’t expect Israel to take this serious action unless it sees some reciprocal movement on the Arab side.
As Obama has tied His peace process to a more regional comprehensive Arab normalization, Israeli government officials have been saying that they expect to also see some simultaneous and reciprocal movement on the part of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states (besides action on the ground from the Palestinians – though no one expects them to comply, so no one even tries to pretend any more with them).
That certainly sounds reasonable to them.
But more important to Bibi is that I suspect that Bibi wants to force Obama to back up Israel in an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu sees Iran's nuclear capabilities as the biggest existential threat to Israel on the playing field today.
Obama also publicly linked His support for Israel against Iran to the Peace Process. He did so in part to force Israel to recommence the peace process. But more importantly, He primarily did it as a threat to stop us from taking unilateral military action, but this had an unintentional consequence Obama apparently didn't foresee.
Bibi will likely also announce that the Peace Process is going forward and Israel is freezing settlements, and because Obama linked it publicly, he will then demand the US now provide military backup for Israeli actions against Iran.
And if Obama doesn't backup Israel, bye-bye Obama’s (already damaged) credibility in Israel and His peace process.
Of course there is only one fatal flaw in this line of thinking.
As one democrat said, when asked why the Arab world couldn't first show signs of a willingness to normalize before Israel declares a moratorium, he characterized such a demand as "childish."
Unfortunately we’ve been in this movie before.
Israel makes a major concession; nothing is reciprocated on the other side (except usually violence). Israel’s concessions requires major cost to reverse or recoup, if possible (i.e. taking back lost ground, capturing terrorists, etc.). And now Israel finds itself in a weaker and smaller position, while the world again sees they can pressure us, and get what they want from us at no cost to them at all.
We all remember when Sharon promised us (with promises from the US) that after the Expulsion the world would treat Israel differently and stop making one-sided demands of us. We see how well that worked out.
And we all remember what Rabin promised us before Oslo.
Experience shows that they were all empty promises.
Unfortunately, Bibi is probably counting on his actions being able to morally require reciprocal actions on the part of Obama and the Arabs.
Last time he tried that it was at Wye with Bill Clinton and Clinton’s broken promise of freeing Pollard. That didn’t work out too well either.
Bibi, please don’t make the same mistakes again.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד