Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Akiva Eldar: What will happen if Israel ’defeats’ Obama?

1 June 2009

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz – 1 June 2009

Akiva Eldar

Akiva Eldar

You had to read it twice to believe it: “Criticism of the United States in Jerusalem.” A senior Israeli official warns: “We are disappointed.” The fly hovering about is complaining that the elephant is not obeying its orders. What chutzpah on the part of Barack Obama. He just entered the White House and already has something to say – about how many new houses we are building in Ofra, and about when we will dismantle the walls in the “illegal outposts,” which are already beginning to disintegrate because of old age.

Instead of dismantling settlements, he would do better to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program. Otherwise Jerusalem will reassess its special relationship with Washington, and will reconsider its commitment to ensuring the qualitative advantage of the United States. If this situation continues, we may even stop vetoing anti-American decisions in the United Nations Security Council.

Let’s assume that there is some point to the criticism of the U.S. president’s determined insistence on petty details when it comes to Jewish construction in the territories. Let’s agree that Obama in his naivete really has become preoccupied with inconsequential matters, such as a handful of pathetic outposts. Should the State of Israel risk a crisis with the most important power in the world because of what it considers “inconsequential matters”? Does Israel have a greater existential strategic asset than its relations with the U.S. and its neighbors’ understanding that these intimate relations are unshakable?

Is this the way to keep “all options open,” including receiving American approval to fly over the skies of Iraq, on the way to attacking Iran’s nuclear installations? And what will we do when the Iranians launch missiles at Tel Aviv? Will we send the new Abba Eban, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to Washington to ask Obama to declare war on Tehran? At the same time, the settler from Nokdim can reprimand the president for refusing to take his “natural growth” into account.

Does Israel really have an interest in winning the battle over the settlements? What will happen if we destroy the prestige of the strongest man in the world and portray him as an empty vessel, incapable of halting the settlement program of a U.S. protege? Will an Israeli “victory” strengthen the status of the U.S. in the international campaign against Iran?

A partial answer to these questions can be found in the address last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before members of the Likud faction, regarding the necessity of evacuating the outposts. The right believes that the more they fatten this bastard goat, the more its removal will be considered to be what former prime minister Ariel Sharon called a “painful concession.”

However, even Netanyahu knows that Obama does not intend to participate in these goat games. The U.S. president is not a political amateur, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak implied when he said that dismantling the outposts would not stop the Iranian nuclear program. Obama will be visiting Riyadh and Cairo this week, in an attempt to revive the Madrid conference coalition, which president Bush, Sr. formed after the first Gulf War, in October 1991. Incidentally, then too, the Likud, led by Yitzhak Shamir, “leveled harsh criticism” against the U.S. administration and “expressed disappointment” at its refusal to recognize the natural growth of the settler population. We can assume that Obama has also heard the news that its number (without East Jerusalem) has grown since then, from fewer than 100,000 to almost 300,000. Enviable fertility indeed.

The new-old Arab-Israeli-American coalition is Obama’s answer to the Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah one. It is based on the peace initiative of the Arab League, which was adopted by the Organization of Islamic States, including Iran. An Israeli decision to adopt its principles – all the territories in return for a general peace – will remove the Shi’ite-Iranian minority from the Arab and Muslim consensus. As far as the latter are concerned, let Israel nurture the outposts, expand the settlements, clip the wings of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It will help pave a shortcut for Iran from Gaza to Ramallah.

Israel itself, the Israel that does not understand the connection between the settlement of Yizhar and the reactor in Bushehr, claims that Hamastan is nothing more than a subsidiary of Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not shed a tear if Israel blows off Obama with his two-state solution. The sharper the conflict between the Jews and the Americans on “inconsequential matters,” the greater the joy of Shushan/Iran.

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