by Peter Beinard
President Obama’s parameters for a new round of Mideast peace talks were designed to head off U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state based strictly on 1967 borders—which would be catastrophic for Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu’s immediate rejection of the plan suggests he has no grasp of the real world.
A sailor throws a drowning man a life preserver. How dare you, screams the man. Because of you, people are going to think I can’t swim.
That about sums up the relationship between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. In a few months, the U.N. General Assembly will vote, probably overwhelmingly, to recognize a Palestinian state along Israel’s 1967 borders. No one knows exactly what will happen after that, but from the Israeli government’s point of view, it won’t be good. According to international law, Israel will be occupying a sovereign nation. The result will likely be a bonanza of lawsuits, divestment campaigns and cancelled business deals. Israelis will feel more and more besieged. More and more of the country’s educated, tech-savvy young will realize you can get pretty good falafel in Menlo Park.
Last week, Obama threw Netanyahu a lifeline. He outlined the parameters that should guide Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: the 1967 border, plus land swaps. Obama’s strategy was clear: He promised to veto the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the U.N. Security Council, but also hoped that by getting the Israeli government to endorse a contiguous Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, he could persuade the Palestinians to abandon their United Nations strategy in favor of a return to negotiations. And even if the Palestinians wouldn’t budge, Israel’s acceptance of Obama’s guidelines would make it easier to persuade European governments to oppose the Palestinians at the U.N. read more