How Could Obama Have Agreed to All These 'Understandings' With Netanyahu?

Let's use logic to deduce what really went on behind the scenes.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an ambiguous relationship with written documents. On the one hand, he doesn't want the minutes of his talks with representatives of the administration put down in writing lest he be taken literally, but on the other hand, he wants everything in writing, that is to say, everything he was supposedly promised.

Since his meeting with the U.S. secretary of state 10 days ago, Netanyahu has been staring out his office window wondering where the letter from Obama is. Over the past 10 days of confusion, one thing is clear: In formulating the "understandings," numerous misunderstandings have emerged.

Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on September 1, 2010.Credit: AP

Either someone did not speak clearly, did not understand or did not want to understand, or people changed their minds and wanted to retroactively rewrite the minutes of those talks.

How can we know? Let's turn to logic and see what it can tell us about what went on behind closed doors.

Does it seem logical that America would suddenly agree to exclude Jerusalem from the construction freeze? After all, it has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, not to mention the eastern part of the city, which it defines as a disputed area that is also up for negotiation. That has always been Washington's position, regardless of who served as president.

Is it logical for the United States to give up its position, which is the position of the entire international community, for a three-month freeze? If the administration was foolish enough to do so, it would immediately be recognizing greater Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital, ending once and for all its status as an honest broker. That's simply illogical.

Is it logical that America have agreed not to renew its demands for a new freeze after the 90-day freeze is up? If so, it would be recognizing de facto Israel's right to rule all of the land of Israel and not only all of Jerusalem. Netanyahu, Lieberman and Yishai would be able to build in the territories at their discretion, with American authorized and documented permission. That's simply illogical.

Is it logical that of all people, Netanyahu, who knows the side streets of Washington as well as he does those of his boyhood neighborhood of Talbiyeh, does not know how things work there? Even gifts as fine and expensive as 20 stealth aircraft have to get Congressional approval.

To get the deal past his blind partners, Netanyahu is willing to sell essential, sustainable Israeli interests: a natural and unwritten alliance between traditional partners, a bridge of iron, as opposed to documents that have been genetically engineered in the State Department labs - a bridge of paper.

Would it not have been better for Netanyahu to have agreed to the freeze and ask nothing in return? He could have then returned from America and announced: I have agreed to the freeze because that is what we need now and is also the way to show gratitude to a country that has withheld nothing from us.

If he had done so, even his friends and rivals would have respected him. But if he had done so, he wouldn't be Netanyahu.

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