US has turned Netanyahu into its punching bag
Published: 10.30.14, / Israel Opinion
Op-ed: Instead of engaging in self-examination over its failures in Muslim world, Obama administration is personally attacking Israel’s prime minister. The American administration is going through something bad. It failed in Iraq. It failed in Libya. It failed in Afghanistan. It tried to be nice to the Muslim world, and in response, the Muslim world is becoming much more hostile towards the United States. But instead of engaging in self-examination, the American administration has turned Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into its punching bag. Apparently, Netanyahu is to blame for Libya’s disintegration and for the Taliban’s slow takeover of Afghanistan. As far as US Secretary of State John Kerry is concerned, Netanyahu is also to blame for the Islamic State’s growing number of volunteers.
The Obama administration has been trying to advance the peace process for years. Kerry tried to do exactly what Condoleezza Rice tried to do before him. She also came to Israel again and again, she also opposed the settlements, and she also failed.
But there is one difference. Rice knew exactly who was to blame for the failure. She tried, together with President George W. Bush, to advance a peace plan similar to the one President Bill Clinton had tried to advance. It had zero success. Rice was decent enough to accurately describe, in a book she published, that the refusal has Mahmoud Abbas’ name written all over it. His name only. Bill Clinton, before her, clarified in his book that the entire blame should be placed on Yasser Arafat’s shoulders.
Until we reach the Obama administration. There, everything is upside down. Ehud Olmert, the administration’s darling, did not build any less than Netanyahu beyond the Green Line. The Yesha Council is complaining that the construction has been frozen. The Central Bureau of Statistics points to a drop in construction beyond the Green Line. And more importantly, Netanyahu’s response to Kerry’s draft was mainly positive. It was Abbas who rejected it out of hand.
And despite all that, almost all of the administration’s wings have been enlisted to de-legitimize Netanyahu. It’s true that the building starts announcements are annoying. But it’s more about declarations than about actions. And in general, people say “construction in East Jerusalem” or “beyond the Green Line” and forget that we are talking about a neighborhood like Ramat Shlomo, for example, which will remain within Israel even according to the Clinton plan. Netanyahu may not worthy of an award, despite his willingness to withdraw from more than 90% of the territories. And there is no need for an award for the drop in construction. But ongoing personal attacks? Why? Considering the fact that he is the leader of the Likud party, Netanyahu has presented historical compromises. The Americans know that. They know that Abbas was the refuser. They know that Abbas is still insisting on the “right of return.” They know that he is insisting on an impossible and unpractical evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers. And what does he get for his refusal? Mainly understanding and smiles.
The United States was and remains Israel’s greatest and most important friend. This friendship is not just with the administration. It’s a friendship with other centers of power, like the Congress, whose members understand as well that the administration is going too far.
Why this is the same administration that embraced the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and gave General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the cold shoulder. And it’s the same administration that is embracing Qatar, which continues to fund the global jihad, but is kicking Israel, which is fighting that same jihad. Israel should not enter a conflict with the American administration, but it is allowed to present its own truth, to the Congress and the public opinion as well. Not in order to harm the relations, but on the contrary – in order to point to those insisting on deteriorating them.