It was difficult to ascertain exactly what President Obama was trying to say today during his press conference when he addressed the issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations. But as far as I can tell, what’s going on is that the U.S. stance toward Israel is going to become confrontational, and the United States will join other countries in steps that provide some kind of recognition of a Palestinian state, whether the Israelis like it or not.
What gives me this impression is, first of all, Obama’s repeated “assurances” of the U.S. commitment to protect Israel. Such assurances aren’t needed unless something that suggests less U.S. commitment to Israel is about to happen.
But more to the point, Obama said that even Netanyahu’s walk-back of his campaign statement against a Palestinian state – Netanyahu subsequently said a two-state solution could occur if conditions like Palestinian recognition of Israel are met – shows that Netanyahu is not committed to a Palestinian state, and further peace talks are useless.
(Netanyahu’s) conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet anytime soon. So even if you accepted, I think, the corrective of Prime Minister Netanyahu in subsequent days, there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state even if there were a whole range of conditions and security requirements that might be phased in over a long period of time — which was always the presumption . . .
What we can’t do is pretend that there’s a possibility of something that’s not there. And we can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen at least in the next several years . . .
We believe that two states is the best path forward for Israel’s security, for Palestinian aspirations, and for regional stability. That’s our view, and that continues to be our view. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has a different approach. And so this can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.”
So, fine, suspend negotiations. But here’s the new Obama twist: Instead of a policy of benign neglect and support for Israel’s right to makes its own policies, Obama is about to do what no president has done, namely, start taking the side of the Arabs.
Since talking is finished, he will begin pressuring Israel. And then, if the Palestinians resort to violence to augment the pressure, he will, in typical Obama fashion, blame others for the consequences of his policies. He’ll say the Israelis have been intransigent, even though Netanyahu has reiterated his commitment to a Palestinian state.
He’s going to start turning the screws. And Israel will be administered a brutal dose of hope and change.