Friday, October 29, 2010

Ira Chernus: US Can Put the Squeeze on Israel

By Ira Chernus, The Huffington Post, Oct 28, 2010

Israel can do whatever it damn pleases, and the Obama administration will never say no — or so the common wisdom goes. But it ain’t so. Obama has backed down far too often, but there’s also a long history of Israel giving in to U.S. pressure in the last 18 months. Here are just some of the highlights:

On June 4, 2009, Obama went to Cairo and called on the Israelis to agree to an independent Palestinian state. That same day Netanyahu met with his cabinet. “Ministers split over Obama’s Cairo speech,” one Israeli headline declared.

Just ten days later, Netanyahu spoke words that he’d never said publicly before: “Two states for two people.” Had Obama not made his own speech, it’s doubtful anyone would ever have heard those words from Netanyahu.

Later that summer, “a senior source in Jerusalem” told an Israeli reporter that American envoy George Mitchell had asked Netanyahu to promise a one-year freeze on settlement construction. “Netanyahu and Barak did not reject the request”; they merely “disagreed over some of the details.” The Israelis agreed to ten months, which “came about as a result of extensive bilateral discussions” between Israel and the U.S., according to the Washington Post.

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