relations: A planned rift
By Zalman Shoval
By Zalman Shoval
March 30, 2015
Some believe that the recent outbursts from Washington were caused by
frustration at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory, rather than
being an expression of policy. If only that were the case -- tiffs between
friendly nations come and go. Much more alarming is the possibility of a planned
political shift -- with the Israeli elections and Netanyahu's words that were
twisted and distorted used only to justify measures decided on in advance. The
well-timed media leak accusing Israel of spying on the U.S. during nuclear
negotiations with Iran also fits into this plan, with its goal of maligning
Israel in the eyes of Congress and the public.
By the way, Washington veterans were not surprised by the
"espionage" report. During a conflict between late Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir and then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush, false reports were
released, alleging that Israel had provided China with Patriot missiles. It was
not a coincidence then, and it is not a coincidence now, that these stories were
planted in newspapers with a reader base known to be supportive of Israel.
Netanyahu said in an election speech that a Palestinian state will not be
established "on my watch" -- meaning that with all the chaos in the
Middle East and the near-certainty that under the current circumstances Hamas
would take over any territory ceded by Israel, a two-state solution will need to
be delayed for now. Only a fool would believe that this remark was to blame for
the White House's "reassessment" of its basic approach toward the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Washington Post also expressed surprise at how
anyone could possibly connect statements made by U.S. President Barack Obama and
his aides to Netanyahu's pre-election comments.
Statements like Obama's and those made by the White House Chief of Staff
Denis McDonough at J Street's annual conference -- according to which Israel is
responsible for the most recent breakdown of peace talks -- hint at the
administration's plan to drop America's long-standing requirement of direct
talks as a condition for any arrangement, and to instead adopt an international
approach that would essentially be an imposed solution -- whether it is called
one or not.
Some diplomats believe that this would mean American support for a U.N.
Security Council resolution determining the borders of the two states. As the
outgoing U.N. Mideast envoy Robert Serry said, a new resolution would replace
Resolution 242, which has been the basis for a deal until now. Just a reminder:
Resolution 242 notes the necessity of secure borders and does not require Israel
to withdraw from all territories captured in 1967.
Since the start of the Obama administration, there have been signs that the
American president is considering a major turning point in his country's policy
in the Middle East, with the goal of strengthening America's relationship with
the Muslim and Arab world, including a sort of "affirmative action"
for Iran (which we saw with his letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). However, the
violence in the Middle East is forcing Obama to make some changes to his planned
course of action. It is not only the Palestinian issue, but also his efforts to
draw nearer to Iran -- despite upsetting America's traditional allies in the
region -- that show he has not changed his original approach.
All this does not, of course, excuse Israel from making its best effort,
through diplomatic and other means, to stop the erosion of its relationship with
the current U.S. administration -- but we must still recognize the facts.