The Israeli prime minister apparently believed that by conducting two-track negotiations he could make things coalition-friendly: to both espouse the slogan "two states for two peoples" and sabotage the Palestinians' ability to set up their state; to both embrace Vice President Joe Biden and give the U.S. administration the finger; to both ask the administration to get Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table and put thumbtacks on his seat once he's there.
Judging by the statements of Benjamin Netanyahu and his associates, even now that the American flamethrower is aimed right at him and Israel, he still believes that everything was a misunderstanding, and if he asks nicely to be forgiven or launches an inquiry into what happened, all his transgressions will be absolved.
But giving polished rhetoric precedence over policy and making winking a strategy are endangering the existence of the State of Israel, as is the collision course with Washington on which Netanyahu has put the country. It's impossible to break American support for Israel down into sub-clauses such as mobilization against the Iranian threat, economic and military assistance, or cooperation in all spheres of life. Each of these is essential for the state's survival; they are secondary to the foundation on which the culture of American support for Israel and the Jewish people relies - support from both the administration and the people.
It would be better to get one common misconception out of the way right now: Israel is not America's strategic asset, but America is the source of Israel's strength, and it is essential to rein in the lunacy that threatens to shatter the link between the two countries.
The U.S. administration does not change its policy with sharp movements. It is more like a giant iceberg that moves so slowly that it may be too late to notice that it is already somewhere else. Washington, as Israel's best friend, is sending warning signals not only against Netanyahu's policy of building in the territories and Jerusalem, but also of the greatest danger of all: damage to American support for Israel.
The government headed by Netanyahu is now emerging as a strategic threat. It is essential to remove that threat by adopting an open and responsible policy that will include an undertaking to withdraw from the territories and a total freeze on construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. We must also set a final date for the conclusion of negotiations.
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