A few months shy of 20 years ago, on Sept. 12, 1991, Pres. George HW Bush held a nationally televised press conference to announce that he was asking Israel to delay its request for $10 billion in loan guarantees for 120 days in order to not to jeopardize the Madrid Peace Conference, and that if Congress approve Israel’s request, he would veto the legislation. He was then asked a question from the floor that was identical in substance from that raised by Israel and the US media when Obama called for a freeze on Israeli settlements prior to negotiations:
Q. Mr. President, you said that a contentious debate now could actually keep some parties away from the peace table. Yet, the Israelis claim that those Arabs who have indicated a willingness to participate in the peace process have not made the settlement issue a precondition. They say that’s your precondition. As one columnist said this week, “It’s your obsession.” Is that fair?
One important difference between Bush Sr. and Obama is that Bush had members of his cabinet, such as Secretary of State James Baker, who were totally on his side and not in any way beholden to Israel or AIPAC. When Obama looks around the room, many associates might as well be wearing an Israeli flag pin on their lapels.