[News] No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 21 10:53:35 EDT 2009

No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 May 2009

Seldom has an encounter between an American and Israeli leader been 
as hyped as this week's meeting between US President Barack Obama and 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As expected, Obama 
committed himself to diplomacy with Iran and pledged an enormous 
effort to achieve a two-state solution. Netanyahu continued to incite 
confrontation with Iran and refused to commit himself to a Palestinian state.

On the surface it may seem there are real differences and that the 
forces arrayed on each side -- including the formidable Israel lobby 
-- are gearing up for an epic battle to determine the fate of 
US-Israeli relations.

But Obama offered little new, reaffirming well-worn US positions that 
view Palestinians, particularly Hamas, as the aggressors, and Israel 
as the innocent victim. While calling for Israel to halt settlement 
construction (as US presidents have done for decades), Obama offered 
no hint that he would back those words with action. Quite the 
contrary, the president said he would urge Arab leaders to normalize 
relations with Israel, rewarding it in advance of any renewed peace talks.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama applies 
unprecedented pressure to force Israel to make a deal with the 
Palestinians. What would such a deal look like? The outlines were 
suggested in the recent report sent to Obama by a group of US elder 
statesmen headed by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. 
The document, warning that there was only a "six to twelve month 
window" before all chances for peace evaporated, called on the US to 
forcefully advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. But this 
would be a demilitarized truncated state "based on" the 1967 borders. 
Israel would annex large West Bank settlements and there would be no 
right of return for Palestinian refugees. This "state" would be 
occupied indefinitely by a NATO-led "multinational force," which the 
Scowcroft group suggests could also include Israeli soldiers (see 
last chance for a two-state Israel-Palestine agreement, 2009).

Of course the Scowcroft proposal does not necessarily represent Obama 
administration thinking, but it expresses the pervasive peace process 
industry consensus that views such an outcome as "reasonable," 
"pragmatic" and all but inevitable, and it accords with Obama's own 
statements opposing the right of return and supporting Israel's 
demand to to be recognized as a "Jewish state."

In other words, what the vast majority of Palestinians would view as 
a horrifying plan to legitimize their dispossession, grant Israel a 
perpetual license to be racist, and turn the apartheid regime set up 
by the Oslo accords into a permanent prison, is now viewed as bold 
and far-reaching thinking that threatens to rupture American-Israeli bonds.

Netanyahu has little to lose by embarking on another "peace process" 
after making a show of resisting American pressure (or extracting 
more American concessions or money). He knows the chances of ever 
getting to the stated destination are nil. Obama will not apply 
significant pressure, and even if he did, it is unclear on whom he 
would apply it, since on the Palestinian side there are no leaders 
ready, willing and able to carry off a second Oslo-style fraud 
against their people.

Obama reportedly believes peace in Palestine is the key to 
transforming US relations with the "Muslim world." If he were serious 
about this, the US would have to break with all its past policies and 
support peace based on democratic and universal human rights 
principles and equality -- something incompatible with a commitment 
to Israel as a "Jewish state" practicing legalized discrimination. 
All the signs are however that the Obama administration will push to 
try to force Palestinians and Arabs to accept and normalize Israel as 
it is and that the US will continue to underwrite a morally and 
politically bankrupt Zionist settler-colonial project with a 
permanent American military, economic and diplomatic bailout.

The real problem for US-Israeli relations is not to be found in 
whether Netanyahu utters the magic words "two-state solution." Rather 
it is that after Gaza it is impossible to keep peddling the fiction 
that Israel is a brave, self-reliant liberal democracy deserving of 
unconditional support. No matter what this administration does, this 
will eventually result in pressure on Israel -- such as growing 
American public support for the global boycott, divestment and 
sanctions movement.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of 
<http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/store/548.shtml>One Country: A 
Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan 
Books, 2006). This article was originally published by 
and is republished with permission.

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