By Arlene Kushner
What is being touted as minor glitches in the negotiations between Israel and the US with regard to the “freeze” deal are actually much more. And so the talking goes on and on. All day yesterday, I had this “any minute now” sense, even as I was picking up conflicting reports that were indicative of the gaps between the two sides.
Yesterday, Haaretz reported that:
“According to a US official, ‘If the moratorium deal goes through, we will continue to press for quiet throughout east Jerusalem during the 90 days,’ regardless of what Netanyahu is telling his coalition partners. ‘So whatever Bibi is telling [the] Shas [party] to reassure them about U.S. policy on east Jerusalem is not true.'”
Shas is said to be demanding specific commitments up front from our government in terms of Jerusalem building projects for those 90 days. May they stand strong!
Now, today, I have read that there is haggling over the issue of the stealth jets Israel is reportedly to receive — with regard to when we would receive them and whether they would be a gift or would carry a substantial price tag. (No wonder I have had difficulty in reporting.)
What I have been pondering is why the difference in interpretations: Did Hillary (a model of duplicity) actually say things to Netanyahu that the US is now backing off from, or did she imply subtly and allow him to draw inflated conclusions (perhaps not imagining that Israel would demand the promises in writing), or did Netanyahu willfully exaggerate at home in order to sell the deal (the possibility I actually consider least likely since he’s demanding the deal in writing).
Netanyahu came away from his meeting with Clinton sounding like a high school cheerleader. Reading his words — Wow! this is great, we’re going to be able to come to the table and make peace now, or something akin to this — made my stomach hurt. I felt then and still feel that he cannot believe this. I am absolutely convinced — unless he is sinking into a very early senility — that he knows with certainty that the Palestinian Arabs can not, do not want to, make a peace deal. So why all the eagerness?
The conclusion I drew (and please, Netanyahu-haters, don’t write to me!) is that, whether it is actually the case or not (I would say, not), he believes he is being clever by playing this game of eagerness. It’s not all caving, it also suggests something of that well-known Netanyahu brinksmanship. There are reasons why he may see it important to appear eager to negotiate peace: He is determined, I suspect, to demonstrate to the US and the world at large that it is the other side that is obstructionist. The problem, of course, is that the US and the world at large don’t really care — they find a way to put the onus on us anyway.
However, it is very possible that Netanyahu is acting as he is at least in part because of the specter of Palestinian Arab unilateralism — which would mean the PLO requesting that the Security Council declare a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines. He does not want the Arabs to be able to say that they had to do this because Israel would not negotiate. I further suspect that he might be counting on the PA/PLO to either refuse to come to the table at all, or to sabotage talks early on, so that there is no actual danger of having to negotiate away our state. Very dangerous stuff, if this is the case. But less dangerous than if he truly had reached the point at which he himself wanted to give away our state.
All this theorizing aside, I am grateful that our prime minister at least is holding out for a written deal (although in the end I fear he may settle for more ambiguity than is wise), and that he says the deal must enhance Israeli security.
I am far more grateful for the right wing, nationalist members of the Security Cabinet who know better than to trust the US and thus make the written agreement necessary — the agreement that, I trust, will never properly materialize and will make it all fall apart.
Caroline Glick, in her column today, “Facing Our Fears,” echoes my supposition about Netanyahu:
“According to sources close to Netanyahu, it is his fear of US abandonment at the Security Council that has convinced him to capitulate so profoundly…”
But she says this about the deal Netanyahu made with Clinton:
“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must have given Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quite a reception. Otherwise it is hard to understand what possessed him to accept the deal he accepted when he met with her last week.
“Under the deal, Netanyahu agreed to retroactively extend the Jewish construction ban ended on September 26 and to carry it forward an additional 90 days.
“Clinton’s demand was ‘Not one more brick’ for Jews, meaning, no Jew will be allowed to lay even one more brick on a home he is lawfully building even as the US funds massive Palestinian construction projects. The magnitude of this discriminatory infringement on the property rights of law abiding citizens is breathtaking.”
Glick refers to the huge mistake of agreeing to start negotiations with the issue of borders (separating it out from the rest). In point of fact, this is last thing that should be negotiated, because once we should agree to certain borders that would be the point at which the PLO could walk away from negotiations and tell the Security Council that Israel has agreed to a state defined by these lines.
“Netanyahu made a horrible deal with Clinton.
“Leaders like Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon have acted as patriots by actively opposing it. It is true that the Obama administration could help us if it wanted to. But it doesn’t want to. Happily, Israel has the power to help itself, if it dares.”
Read her entire article to understand what she sees as the way for us to help ourselves.
JPost editor David Horovitz, writing today, observes,
“Before we can even get to grips with the complexities of dealing with the Palestinians, we find ourselves head-to-head with Washington, locked in tense negotiating sessions where previously we were locked in step.”
And Ruby Rivlin (Likud), Speaker of the Knesset, observes,
“Today we find ourselves facing an American administration that does not see as a basic point of reference the moral responsibility for the existence of Israel…There is definitely a new American perception that does not see Israel as a strategic asset in the Middle East for both the United States and the free world.”
These are hard realities that we Israelis, first, must accept and cope with in strength, but that American Jews and all American supporters of Israel must also deal with.
Do we have supporters in Congress? Absolutely. Magnificent supporters. But the Obama administration’s approach to Israel is adversarial and hostile.