U.S. President Barack Obama must have pored over the reports that were piling up on his desk at the White House with growing concern. "Oh my, oh my," he must have said to himself as he read the ultimatums issued by Avigdor Lieberman, the man who has the Netanyahu government by the short hairs. When he read that the Israeli cabinet's Number 2 says he "enjoyed every minute of his police interrogations," he must have wondered in whose name this tough guy was speaking when he declared that he does not recognize Annapolis and the two-state principle.
Obama's response was not long in coming. He served us a slap that resounded throughout the Islamic world when he told the Turkish parliament that the United States unequivocally supports the two-state solution. "That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. And that is a goal that I will actively pursue as president of the United States," he said.
The fact that the president chose to visit Turkey before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not without significance; nor is the fact that the meeting with Jordan's king also comes ahead of the meeting with Bibi; and that the American president was seen bowing to the Saudi king. Life with Obama is not going to be a picnic.
For years, U.S.-Israeli dialogue has gone beyond what is reflected in the media. The Obama administration has doubtless made clear to us that the two-state track is the key to the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
These are the facts of life. Either you continue with the American plan or you come out against it, and then we will have to get along in an extremist Islamic world, with America and the European Union against us. As the saying goes, if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.Israel's leaders take as a given that relations with the United States are symmetrical. They are not. Bibi himself believes that this is a different America, a president with a different agenda, and he knows he will have to act differently. There is something to be said these days for Israeli comic Tal Friedman's iconic recommendation to |speak in a whisper."
Every time Israel objects to the policy of the American administration, it gets cuffed on the head. Once it was "reevaluation" ((a freezing of weapons shipments) by President Ford; once it was a delay in the loan guarantees by the first president Bush, when prime minister Yitzhak Shamir did not want to participate in the Madrid conference. It is amazing that Bibi has not yet brought Lieberman to account. He's that afraid of him?
Our politicians are focusing on the Iranian nuclear program, and it is impossible to say that is unjustified, considering the fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made us his first target for annihilation. But the local chatter has crossed all bounds.Every politician threatens from every podium that we are ready to demolish Iran's nuclear array.
See how - according to foreign reports - our planes have reached as far as Sudan, which comes with the veiled hint that it is the same distance as Iran. See how we bombed the nuclear facility in Syria hoping they will understand that we know where every one of their facilities is.
It can be said that terror seized us when Obama announced a solution to the Iranian issue through dialogue, and Iran agreed. See again how "Bibi's people," who did not open their mouths about Annapolis, provided Haaretz with the major headline that Israel does not oppose multilateral dialogue between the West and Iran.
First of all, who asked us whether we agree or not? Second, what is behind this generous pronouncement? Only a few days ago, Maariv reported that Bibi had met with the heads of the security establishment and was very pleased with the plans to attack Iran. What about our diplomatic solution?
Dialogue with Iran is like negotiating in a Persian bazaar. They have no problem saying one thing and doing another. It cannot be assumed that Iran will change its understanding of its nuclear program as a strategic goal. If Obama comes with a carrot, they will eat it; the question is - what if he comes with a stick too? Obama will not go the way of the first and second Bushes.
In any case, Obama's United States will not allow us to act alone. With all of our operational capabilities, it is not like bombing the reactor in Iraq. This is on a different scale, with the danger of a deadly reprisal deep in our home front, when we still do not have a response to the Qassam threat. The destruction of Iran's nuclear power is a task too big for us.
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