Obama’s tough love for Israel

The pressure is beginning to build on the fragile Israeli government to show some openness regarding settlements (legal or otherwise). Some Israeli polls show a more moderate stance from the population than has been expressed by the prime minister and Foreign Minister Lieberman. Meanwhile, U.S. public opinion appears to be appreciative of Obama’s approach, which has made peace in the Middle East a priority in the early stages of his presidency. This is a risky move by the Obama Administration, but it indicates that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu will have to show flexibility or else some tough love may be on the way. Netanyahu’s speech next week could therefore set the tone for future talks.

It is understandable that the Israeli government is going to be concerned about its neighbours, especially Iran given its nuclear ambitions. But the American public was introduced to a new and emerging Iran on NBC’s Dateline, where the presidential race appears to be tighter than most had expected it to be a few months ago and where women and the youth are playing a more prominent role. No doubt, as it has been noted by prominent observers like Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, that Iran is slowly abandoning its strident anti-American attitudes, which has its origins with the repulsive regime of the American-backed Shah of Iran and the U.S. support of an attempted invasion by Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s. Expect old traditional rhetoric from Netanyahu to be challenged in America if there is a feeling that Obama has succeeded in reframing the debate.

Judging from the Sunday news shows and some accounts in the Arab media, President Obama was able to convey a change of attitude by the American government during his trip to Cairo. The words apparently did matter and Obama’s attempt to touch various aspects of the Muslim world may have already begun to resonate. The seemingly pro-western alliance led by Said Hariri has won Lebanon’s parliamentary elections against expectations. It is too early to attribute the results to Obama’s speech, but it certainly did not hurt. And on June 12, Iranians will head to the polls to end a close race that may cost President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad his job. Should the moderate Mir Hosein Mousavi win, a new dynamic will begin to surface in the Arab world. Syria, too, has sent encouraging signals that it may be open to a new dialogue.

It’s widely agreed that Obama must follow up with deeds that go significantly beyond the rhetoric. Obama has made it clear that he is committed to a two-state solution, but Israel and Palestine must each make some major concessions. So must Iran and Syria, two key players in any long lasting peace scenario. The odds are already stacked against progress and success in a part of the world where religion and politics intersect against a background of mistrust, violence and self-interest. Obama is a realist, but you can be sure that he will not hesitate to use tough love even against his closest ally, Israel, if an opening for a lasting peace occurs. To do otherwise will be a recipe for failure .




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Obama’s tough love for Israel

  1. If only Israel were to settle on a fixed and straight border for all eternity that is negotiated with the Palestinians, rather than the patchwork of enclaves it unilaterally lays claim to, much of the animosity would probably dissipate…

    • You make it sound so easy. Drawing a line on a map is not going to reverse decades of animosity. Especially since the concessions will not be enough for hardliners on either side.

      • Sometimes the easiest solution is the one that nobody wants.

        I'm not saying that it would reverse decades of animosity, but it would eliminate the excuses to maintain them IMHO.

  2. Time for tough love . It should have been given many years ago. I am for Israel but the fence and the exaggerated response has made it worse . Israel used to have greater support . Obama will not be dictated by BiBi.
    Bush did a lot to weaken Fatah and look whhat we got -Hamas. It may have suited Israel because they bombed the hell out of Southern Lebanon but lost in public opinion . They won in Gaza but lost the moral ground .

    • But what does Obama have that Netanyahu wants or doesn't already have? It's not like Obama is going to start cutting US support for Israel. It will divide Democrats in Congress whom he needs to pass his domestic agenda.

  3. Well, they dismantled the settlements in the Gaza and that worked out well for them. Should we expect a better result if they dismantle them in the West Bank?

    • There were opportunities for peace way before the settlements took on a life of its own . Judea and Samaria -once Israel used the biblical terms , they confirmed the worse fears of its neighbors . The treatment of individual Palestinians has done to inspire co habitation . Sharon provoked the Second Infidada. This being , the Arbas have been very two -faced on the Palestinians . But Obama has to push them .

  4. israel is a sovereign country and should act in its national interest and take no orders from the US president .You cannot trust the neighbors,especially Hamas and Hezbollah . And their terrorist wing , Al quaeda .

    • That would be simple if Israel did not get about $10 billion in aid and armaments from the U.S. annually. If the U.S. stopped this assistance, Israel would collapse rather quickly.

  5. yuass ben gool, you are a disgrace to humanity, peace, tolerance, and you also have a terrible lake of vision.

    hamas is a democracy choosen by the palestian people, both hamas and hezbollah condemn al quaeda's agenda and have absolutely nothing to do with that organisation.

    it is in israel's national interest to live and peace with a sovereign independant palestian state. (and even hamas is asking for just that)

    peace.

    • Noam
      I hope you are right and YBG is a bit off the track , to be polite . Poor knowledge of the issues , I might add .The challenge is how all the different parties react to Obama's challenge and change the dial and maybe lower the volume . Bibi has a chance to be a statesman . But it will require some assistance from others and trust in Obama.

    • Noami
      You can call me what you wish. Hamas is a terrorist organization who support suicide bomber like Bin Laden.Hamas refuses to recognize israel`s right to exist.You are so uninformed and it is `lack`,not `lake`. Not too sharp a knife in that drawer.

  6. The headline implies that Obama is already using 'tough love'. Then at the very end we see this:

    "Obama is a realist, but you can be sure that he will not hesitate to use tough love even against his closest ally, Israel, if an opening for a lasting peace occurs. To do otherwise will be a recipe for failure ."

    In other words, no 'tough love' has been used at all, but Parisella wants to reassure anyone who might be encountering skepticism toward The One that it will be. Or might be. Or something. The point is, keep the faith (in Obama), for He will always do (or at least say) what is best.

    The adulation is getting tiresome.

    • Well, George Bush I delayed aid to Israel for a while because the Jews were building new settlements on the West Bank. After that he lost his election and became a one term president. If Obama is a realist, he will do nothing of the sort. But we will see in due course.

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