As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Tag Archives: Israel

The GOP Road to the White House Runs Through Israel

I have new piece running at the top of the Reuters opinion section this morning, “The Republican road to the White House runs through Israel.” 

The gist of it is that Israel is going to become a huge issue in the 2016 election and that Republicans will benefit – both against each other and the against the eventual Democratic nominee – from trumpeting their support for the Jewish state. Not so much because it will help them gain Jewish votes – but because it will help them with Christians.

I hope you’ll take a look.

Obama Signals He Will Confront Netanyahu

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.

Obama said:

(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.

McDonough: “An Occupation that has Lasted 50 Years Must End”

I’m beginning to wonder if President Obama is going to provoke another Intifada.

What has happened is clear. Secretary of State Kerry tried to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize – and who knows, a second for Obama? – by negotiating a “peace” agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Now that this didn’t work, and with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu firmly ensconced under the skin of Obama, the administration has decided to ratchet up the pressure and force Israel to accept what it couldn’t get through voluntary negotiation. To this end, the United States will abandon its support for Israel in certain international fora, increasing worldwide pressure on the Israelis to accept a Palestinian state.

And Obama will have support from many American Jews, who are traumatized at the criticism by their allies on the left of Israel’s lack of “social justice” and are aghast that their Israeli cousins voted overwhelmingly for right wingers. The divide between Jews in Israel and the United States is outlined in this piece by Dennis Prager.

Just look at this video. Here is White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough receiving wild applause during remarks Monday from the leftist Jewish group “J Street,” a rapturous, standing ovation for a statement that could have been made by the leader of Hamas:

An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have there right and live in, and govern themselves in their own sovereign state.

This is frightening. I hope those screaming their approval will plan some travel to Israel once ISIS or the equivalent takes over the Palestinian “sovereign state” and explosives begin raining down on the heads of Israelis.

And think of how this was phrased. “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years.” As if Israel were an evil, colonial force rather than a nation trying to preserve some kind of buffer for itself between existence and doom.

With the White House now siding with Israel’s enemies, one has to wonder if the Palestinians, enthralled and emboldened by their new White House backing, will calculate that it would benefit them to add to the pressure with a little of their vintage terrorism. What’s more, the violence could provoke an Israeli response that would further antagonize the world, and Obama.

The White House is playing with fire. All Israel has is America. And now, with America about to deliver to the Iranians a nuclear weapon and hoping to hand the Palestinians a state, Israel is in mortal jeopardy.

Obama Calls to Give Bibi Hell

Well, President Obama finally called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Thursday evening to “congratulate” him on his election victory, but it wasn’t your typical congratulatory call. It was congratulations, Obama style.

It’s a little like congratulating someone on their wedding by saying, I hope you get divorced soon.

During the call, according to the New York Times, Obama threatened to change – presumably not in a good way – the U.S. relationship with Israel:

In a striking indication of how bitter tensions remain between the two, Mr. Obama told Mr. Netanyahu directly that the United States would have to “re-assess our options” after the prime minister’s “new positions and comments” on the two-state solution, according to a White House official who spoke without authorization to detail the private conversation.

According to reports, Obama also brought up Netanyahu’s election day warning that left wing organizations were busing Arab voters to the polls, employing the same rhetoric Obama aides have used suggesting the statement was “cynical” – i.e., racist.

Oh, and then there was the congratulations.

What Netanyahu said about Arab voters being bused to the polls is a fact. No one argues with it. What they criticize is his motivation for saying it.

Of course, statements of uncomfortable facts these days are often adjudged by the liberal elite as racist, intolerant, sexist, whatever. No matter that they are facts.

Here’s what Netanyahu said:

The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses.

What I don’t understand is, how are we to know that Netanyahu intended this to energize his – by implication of the criticism – racist voters? Everyone knows that Arabs were voting against him. Could Netanyahu’s statement not also have been an attempt to clearly delineate the threat to Likud?

It was the left that was actually targeting the Arabs.

If tens of thousands of Israeli Jewish delicatessen owners opposed Likud, and the Left was offering them free, quality pastrami if they go to the polls, wouldn’t it be natural for Netanyahu to warn Likud voters that delicatessen owners were being induced to vote?

What is never mentioned is that Netanyahu actually did soon try to clarify his message. He said:

What’s wrong is not that Arab citizens are voting, but that massive funds from abroad from left-wing NGOs and foreign governments are bringing them en masse to the polls in an organized way, thus twisting the true will of all Israeli citizens who are voting, for the good of the Left.

But there was no deterring the thought police at this point, who not only want to dictate your thoughts, but who think they can deduce them as well.

One of the policemen gave Netanyahu a call last night. And he’ll be writing tickets for the next two years.

 

White House to Bibi: You Can’t Take it Back

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today declined to accept Israeli Prime Minister Netayahu’s reversal today of his earlier rejection – which had been made during the final moments of a campaign – of a two state solution, saying the White House “reevaluation” of its stance toward Israel would go forward.

Why? I’ll tell you why. Because the White House has wanted to do this for a long time, and Netanyahu’s statement rejecting a Palestinian state was the perfect pretext for moving ahead.

Under repeated questioning, Earnest’s only hint of flexibility was to say the U.S. would monitor Netanyahu’s future statements.

Earnest spoke during the daily White House briefing:

What is apparent is that in the context of the campaign and while he was the sitting Prime Minister of Israel, he walked back from commitments that Israel had previously made to a two-state solution.

So it is, as we mentioned yesterday, cause for the United States to evaluate what our path is forward, given the Prime Minister’s comments. And so we’ll have to sort of see what sort of policy and priorities the Prime Minister chooses, but we certainly are in a position to evaluate our approach to these issues, given that the Prime Minister essentially backed away from commitments that Israel had previously made to this effort.

This despite Netanyahu’s clear statement that he want a two-state solution, albeit with some reasonable caveats, according to NBC News.

“I don’t want a one-state solution,” he told NBC News in an interview. “I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”

But he cautioned that “circumstances have to change” for that to happen. He said that the Palestinian leader refuses to recognize Israel and has made a pact with Hamas calling for Israel’s destruction.

“And every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces,” he said. “We want that to change so we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace.”

Earnest also specifically suggested that the United States, as part of its “reevaluation,” might change its policy of protecting Israel against hostile resolutions in the UN.

Why Israel Should be Very Worried

Let me tell you three things about President Obama that auger very poorly for Israel.

1. Obama is, at heart, an internationalist. It pains him to make the United States the stumbling block in front of international opinion. Now he feels he is free to join with the consensus of the other internationalists at organizations such as the UN and pressure a rogue nation into “proper” standards of behavior.

2. Israel recalls for Obama issues that are central for him – racism and oppression of minorities by a dominant culture. Obama’s default stance is with what he perceives as the aggrieved minority, not the majority, no matter the threats the majority faces. It reminds him not only of the struggle for racial justice in the United States, but one of the defining issues of his political coming-of-age during the 1980s, the fight against the Apartheid system in South Africa.

3. Obama is not lazy, but he’s not the hardest working president we’ve seen either. But he is extraordinarily competitive. When faced with competition, as during one of his political campaigns, he shelves the golf, focuses like a laser, and does everything he has to not to lose.

With his own reelection, Netanyahu has soundly humiliated and beaten Obama. He did so while upstaging and defying him in his own backyard with a grand speech to Congress. The well of the House is a stage Obama feels he owns, not some foreign interloper.

Make no mistake, Obama will strike back hard. He is furious about Netanyahu’s unexpected victory. He will not allow the Israeli leader to have the final word. He will win at all costs. And that will have grave consequences for Israel.

Obama Aides Won’t Rule Out Lessening Support for Israel

Top Obama administration officials refused Wednesday to rule out a reduction in long-time U.S. support for Israel, including refusing to fend off resolutions at the United Nations hostile toward Israel, according to Politico.

The possible – I’d say all-but-certain – change in stance comes in the wake of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reelection and his vow that he would not allow a Palestinian state during his tenure, a rejection of the two-state solution that has been the basis of Obama’s aggressive effort to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

From the Politico piece:

“The positions taken by the prime minister in the last days of the campaign have raised very significant substantive questions that go far beyond just optics,” said a senior administration official, adding that recent Israeli government actions were in keeping with Netanyahu’s rhetoric.

While saying it was “premature” to discuss Washington’s policy response, the official wouldn’t rule out a modified American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has long fended off resolutions criticizing Israeli settlement activity and demanding its withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

“We are signaling that if the Israeli government’s position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we’re going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward,” the official said . . .

Obama has other diplomatic options. He could expend less political capital to oppose growing momentum within the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel for its settlement activity.

More provocative to Israel would be any softening of Obama’s opposition to Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, which the Palestinian Authority will formally join on April 1.

Membership in the ICC could result in the Palestinians bringing war crimes charges against Israel.

This is consistent with my analysis Wednesday that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was menacing Israel with his comments that the administration would have to “reevaluate” its positions.

U.S. To “Reevaluate” Approach to Israeli-Palestian Question

In the wake of an election that saw Israelis return President Obama’s detested foe – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – to power, the White House today said it would “reevaluate” its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Sounds menacing to me. Earnest, who spoke aboard Air Force One as Obama headed to Cleveland, noted that in theContinue Reading

Netanyahu Gets a Congratulatory Call . . . From India’s PM

Now this will be very interesting, to see how the White House handles Netanyahu’s win. It’s their worst nightmare, of course. Not only did the hated Netanyahu cruise to victory, but he did it opposing President Obama’s key Middle East policies: a nuclear deal favorable to Iran and a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. WhoContinue Reading

Sorry President Obama: Netanyahu Wins Big

UPDATE 10:30 PM ET: LIKUD OPENS UP A BIG LEAD . . . NETANYAHU DELIVERS VICOTRY SPEECH From the Jerusalem Post: The Israeli elections took a dramatic turn in the early morning hours on Wednesday as official tallies from nearly all precincts indicate that Likud has opened up a significant lead over Zionist Union, a farContinue Reading

Senate Probes Federal Funds Used to Try to Oust Netanyahu

Fox News is reporting that the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has launched a bipartisan probe of State Department funding of a group connected to former Obama political operatives in Israel who are seeking to use the tactics they employed to elect President Obama against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau. According to Fox: A powerful U.S. Senate investigatoryContinue Reading