Netanyahu Visits Washington, Jewish Settlements Remain Sticking Point

July 6, 2010

(ChattahBox)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be meeting with President Obama on Tuesday. And unlike his visit in March, with no press photo opportunities, Obama plans to hold a joint press conference with Netanyahu. But the expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem still remain a sticking point to Mideast peace talks.

BiBi’s visit was rescheduled from a state visit planned for last month, but was canceled after the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla bound for Gaza, which left 10 activists dead and 30 more wounded. Israel’s attack on the aid ship provoked international condemnation.

Besides the weighty matter of peace in the Middle east, today’s meeting also holds political calculations for the Obama administration. With the mid-term elections looming, the Israel lobby and right-wing neo-conservatives in the U.S. are ready to pounce on Obama’s poor treatment of Israel. And a NY Times piece out today, points out that a good portion of the revenue used to expand Jewish settlements has been raised by non-profit groups in the United States:

“Obama is not likely to risk another diplomatic clash with Netanyahu with pivotal U.S. congressional elections looming in November and pro-Israel sentiment strong among American lawmakers and voters.”

“In a story coinciding with Netanyahu’s visit, the New York Times said U.S. and Israeli public records showed at least 40 American groups collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade.”

Today’s press conference should provide an interesting political dynamic.

Photo Source: White House Flickr


One Response to “Netanyahu Visits Washington, Jewish Settlements Remain Sticking Point”

  1. Nikos Retsos on July 6th, 2010 10:38 am

    The Jewish Settlements is the Sticking glue that keep Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman together, and hence Mr. Netanyahu as prime minister – courtesy of Mr. Lieberman. Will Mr. Lieberman allow Mr. Netanyahu to renege? No way! It is unthinkable!

    It is the Yisrael Beiteinu Party of his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that keeps Netanyahu in power, and who can withdraw his support and bring Netanyahu down at any moment – if Netanyahu concedes anything in his talks with Obama. The talks, therefore, are just public consumption fare for Obama who is sliding in the polls, and they will also serve to portray Netanyahu in the news and media as one that is still in control of the Israeli government. But all the facts -from the in-Biden’s face announcement of the 1600 news Israeli homes on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, to the insult of the Turkish ambassador seated at a low position and scolded like a child, to the Israeli attack on the food for Gaza flotilla, and to the fray of relations with Turkey- have already established that behind the scenes it is Avigdor Lieberman that call the shots in the Israeli government.

    Can Netanyahu offer anything to Obama that will advance talks with the Palestinians? Absolutely not. Netanyahu is a hanging by a thread of Yisrael Beitenu Party support, which consider Palestinians as vermin
    in the land God has given to the Jews. And if Netanyahu dares -for example- to announce after the meeting with Obama that Israel’s freeze on the 1600 news home in East Jerusalem will be permanent, Beiteinu will withdraw its support, and his government will collapse. Netanuahu, therefore, knows that if he makes any concession on his talks with Barack Obama, and he announces that concession in a press conference in Washington, Avigdor Lieberman will bolt from the coalition, and by the time Netanyahu’s plane lands back in Israel, he will not be a prime minister anymore! It is the Achille’s Heel of minority governments which depend on the votes of a small party to form a parliamentary majority and govern, but which also carry the irony that the small party can also bring down the government by withdrawing it support at any moment!

    Netanyahu’s Likud Party is a minority party, but governs with a majority formed with the uncompromising ultra right wing Beiteinu party. He can stay as prime minister only as long as he understands that he cannot cross the Beiteinu party’s line in the sand, and as long as he follows its diktat. He is, therefore, a hostage to the Beiteinu’s hard core Jewish ideology, and a facade prime minister. He can stay on the job and enjoy the title and the flair of prime ministership as long as he serves the will of the Beiteinu Party and it’s toxic in diplomatic circles leader Avigdor Lieberman.

    Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, therefore, is meaningless and worthless, because when he returns to Israel he will be fetching water to Avigdor Lieberman, and not water from Obama to Palestinians. Behind the facade of the Obama – Netanyahu talks, the facts are quite clear that the IPAC and the Jewish lobby have made Obama impotent to have any influence in the Middle East, while Netanyahu’s dependence on Yisrael Beiteinu party has made him impotent to make any peace concession to Palestinians that may advance the peace process. The whole story of the Obama-Netanyahu talks, therefore is “much ado about nothing,” if not an outright farce in the Middle East peace conondrum.
    Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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