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Obama outmaneuvers Netanyahu, at last

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Netanyahu and Obama at the United Nations, 2011. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Netanyahu and Obama at the United Nations, 2011. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

For most of Obama’s time in office, Netanyahu and the Israel lobby tied him down like Gulliver. After initially confronting Netanyahu on settlements, Obama retreated in humiliating defeat. This time round, however, Obama outmaneuvered Bibi, apparently using anonymous proxies to pin the blame for the recent talks’ failure where it belongs: on Israel, for failing to end its theft and colonization of Palestinian land.

When Kerry proposed to exhume the two state solution and champion a new round of processing that everyone knew would lead nowhere in the face of Israel’s Iron Wall of obstinacy, what could possibly have been the President’s response? I imagine him saying: “Only do this if it’s a win either way… It’s a win if the impossible happens and we get a positive outcome, and it’s also a win if it produces nothing and we seize the moment to set the record straight as to who’s fundamentally at fault.”

If Netanyahu received any assurances Israel wouldn’t be blamed, he probably shouldn’t have believed them, just as Arafat shouldn’t have believed such assurances before walking into Camp David. Only this time, unlike after Camp David, the oppressor state is receiving the criticism it deserves.

By now Obama has to know that a) Israel is a full blown Apartheid state; b) the United States has been complicit for decades in funding crimes against humanity. And, Israel’s unchecked ethnocentric policies surely cause our first African-American executive to seethe inside. Although Obama felt his political options to be limited, and he wasn’t willing to go so far as withholding loan guarantees like the first President Bush, using unnamed officials to indict Israeli colonial policies upon the talks’ failure must have been his call.

“They [American officials] had one condition, in line with instructions they had received – that I didn’t name them,”

writes interviewer Nahum Barnea. Instructions received from whom? Kerry, who no doubt cleared this with his boss.

“But what they told me is the closest thing to an official American version of what happened.”

Obama clearly doesn’t feel he has the political space to sign his name to these disclosures. In the coming days he may direct Kerry to qualify, retract, or even contradict the contents of the interview, in a pro forma response to Israel lobby pressure. But the word is out and can never be repealed. Haaretz is reporting that Martin Indyk may have been responsible for the anonymous interview. However, would such a seasoned diplomat have done this without his boss’ boss’ approval?

The interview’s disclosures could impact the entire Israel/Palestine political calculus. Netanyahu tried to interfere in U.S. politics, backing Mitt Romney in 2012. Well now Obama has inserted himself into Israeli politics, but for just reasons and out of a positive motivation. Through anonymous staff members, he’s presented a strong case directly to the Israeli public in their most widely-read news outlet that the current Israeli government must be replaced in order to resurrect the two-state solution. If not, Israel’s status in the world will soon be completely delegitimized, and before long Israel will be on its way to becoming a binational, equal rights state. We can never know whether President Obama, in his heart, believes any form of ethnocracy is legitimate, but surely anyone insistent upon Israel as a Jewish-majority state (I am not one of them) would say Obama’s actions and words are more in that state’s interests than Netanyahu’s.

“Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer,”

President Obama said in his speech to Israeli youth in March 2013, hinting at the outrage he must feel. The Ynet interview is, I think, the only way he has of expressing more of his true feelings, using unnamed proxies.

Not only is this remarkable in how it might affect Israeli politics (although I’m not holding my breath for a leftist Israeli gov’t), more importantly, now the whole world knows who’s to blame for the collapse of the peace process. I predict this story will become widely read in the international community.

“The international blame game,” says Israeli analyst Mark Heller, “has been the main subtext of the negotiations all along.”

The Palestinians, deservedly, just won that game. Or, more accurately, Israel lost. The Palestinians haven’t won anything — yet. But their position has improved.

Here in the U.S., the mainstream media has as of this writing completely ignored the revelations. With its track record of self-censorship and repeatedly claiming “both sides are to blame” so as to avoid any honest characterization of Israeli policies, will the New York Times ever set the record straight? From a recent NYT editorial eulogizing the talks:

The two sides are still unwilling to move on the core issues…

Really? What core issue were the Palestinians unwilling to move on? Barnea’s interview outlines an exhaustive list of major concessions Abbas agreed to on borders, land rights, a demilitarized state, a foreign military presence on Palestinian soil, the rights of Palestinian refugees, and ceding areas of occupied East Jerusalem. Compare that to Netanyahu, who gave no more than “an inch” and agreed to zero meaningful concessions.

Oh, wait, Abbas refused to cry Uncle to Netanyahu’s preposterous demand that he recognize Israel “as a Jewish state,” (which means what exactly?). Why is it surprising that Abbas would say no to a definition that, while vague, at minimum clearly implies Zionist militias had every right to expel hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in order to manufacture a Jewish-majority state by force, and to continue to discriminate against non-Jews in perpetuity?

Are the NYT’s editors implying that the PLO negotiating team should join the Likud party as guest Members of the Knesset and raise their hands in favor of Netanyahu’s new basic law defining Israel as a Jewish state, a measure whose passage is hardly assured given that several prominent Israeli Zionist political parties oppose it, such as Labor, Israel’s founding political party? Haaretz’s editorial page says the implication of this new law is that:

“the occupation, the settlement enterprise and the apartheid regime imposed on the Palestinian population are a foundation of Israel’s existence…. Indeed, this bill lays the groundwork for discriminating between Israeli citizens and violating the civil rights of Arab citizens, and for annexing territory while violating the rights of its inhabitants.”

Apparently only total Palestinian capitulation to Israel’s extreme right would satisfy the NYT’s editors, and then they wouldn’t blame the Palestinians as much as they blame the Israelis for the collapse of the talks. Even Israel’s lawyer backpedaled on insisting Abbas support the Israel as Jewish state demand, calling it a “mistake.”

Even if the biased/clueless U.S. media fails to report the facts on who killed the peace process and how (hint: it wasn’t Colonel Mustard in the study with a lead pipe), the exposure of responsibility may become a landmark moment and contribute to the PLO finding an even more receptive audience at the UN to its rightful claims. The future is wide open. In the coming months, we could see any combination of the following:

  • The PLO/State of Palestine seeking to join the International Criminal Court and prosecuting Israel for war crimes;
  • The PLO/State of Palestine demanding Israel’s UN membership be suspended until and unless it abides by international law and UN resolutions, including the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees to which Israel agreed as a condition of its membership;
  • Exponential growth in the BDS Movement;
  • An international Palestinian Israeli equality movement advocating one person, one vote throughout historic Palestine;
  • U.S. public opinion shifting toward Palestinian human rights and equality with increasing awareness of Israeli oppression;
  • A new, less-biased body attempting to step into the mediator role abandoned by Israel’s lawyer;
  • Enough outrage from the Israeli public that it elects a new government serious about negotiating (least likely).

In its closing argumentIsrael’s lawyer has indicted its own client. Absent the rightful assigning of blame, Israel’s apologists would have had an easier time beseeching the world for more peace charades, perhaps with Tony Blair on behalf of the Quartet replacing the outgoing lawyer. Now that will be a much heavier lift for the Israel lobby.

Congratulations to our President and/or to whoever on his team decided to reveal the truth. A small dose of anonymous honesty is better than next to none. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Just as that day arrived for King and Vietnam, that time is here now at last. 

Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.

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43 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on May 4, 2014, 10:37 am

    Not really into these articles, that obama will go away from netanyahu is naive, bordering stupid argument.
    What you had was just an interview, anonymous one.

  2. just on May 4, 2014, 10:48 am

    “Congratulations to our President and/or to whoever on his team decided to reveal the truth. A small dose of anonymous honesty is better than next to none. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Just as that day arrived for King and Vietnam, that time is here now at last. ”

    a big amen to that.

    It’s just breathtaking that by merely allowing Israel to expose itself and not jump to the defense of the indefensible as the US always has, we’ve finally seen some hope.

    • Krauss on May 4, 2014, 11:45 am

      This is just speculation, of course, but the Ynet interview/leak could also be a response(read: retaliation) to the leaks of Kerry talking about Apartheid in Israel to the Trilateral Commission. It was likely a leak from someone who is sympathetic to Likud. I mean, the Trilateral commission is supposed to be this elite entity, and yet such a high-level conservation get leaked? That was a total stab in the back from Israel and it’s sympathetic racist friends in the establishment.

      And note the similarities: they used an American newspaper(the Daily Beast), so the Americans responded in kind to Ynet.

      Just speculation, of course, but if it is true then the administration (finally) played their cards right.

      Now, here’s another interesting thing to think about: what are the odds that Obama is going to use the A-word in his presidential memoirs?

      I’m guessing pretty good odds. The more interesting question is if he will use claptrap “liberal” Zionist language of Israel risking to become an Apartheid state, or if he is more daring and talks about de-facto Apartheid in the West Bank. Or, if he goes even further and outright calls Israel, as a state, an Apartheid state. The last one have quite long odds, but you never know!

      It’d also be interesting how he talks about the smears he endured during 2011 and 2012, for supposedly “hating” Israel. Will he talk about anti-black racism in the Jewish community or will he limit himself to “Likudnik elements”? I’m guessing the latter. The man wants to make a buck at the speaker’s circuit later on and being too hostile to Zionism isn’t going to help your cause, certainly not in America. Then again, the circuit is a lot broader these days and there’s plenty of cash to be had outside the narrow Zionist concensus.

  3. just on May 4, 2014, 10:57 am

    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that while all Israeli citizens deserved equal rights, the state itself was the homeland of just the Jewish people and should be enshrined as such, elaborating on his proposal last week to enact legislation to define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.588896

    If that ain’t enshrining Apartheid, I really don’t know what it is. The ‘man’ wants no peace, no justice, no end to the horror he perpetrates.

    • Accentitude on May 6, 2014, 2:33 am

      He could enshrine it, name it, legislate it however he wants. It doesn’t make it so to anyone in the world other than he and his supporters. He could enshrine it as the nation-state for the people of Zork Zak from Planet Chumbawumba for all I care.

  4. Blownaway on May 4, 2014, 10:58 am

    Such wishful thinking bordering on delusional. If these people were to speak with attribution, if Obama or Kerry would speak out publicly and not cave to criticism, then maybe just maybe they can start to take on the lobby. This was a story in Israel and ignored. It didn’t even make a ripple here.

    • Donald on May 4, 2014, 12:55 pm

      “This was a story in Israel and ignored. It didn’t even make a ripple here.”

      True so far. I think what would have to happen is that the Israel supporters in the US, the more rightwing ones with links to the Republicans, would have to leap on this story and publicize it as evidence that Obama is insufficiently pro-Israel. Once it becomes a partisan issue of that sort, then the story would get coverage. People would line up on partisan lines–that idiot Chris Matthews did a story on Kerry and the word “apartheid” on precisely those grounds a week or so ago. He spun it as “those evil neocons are trying to make Obama and Kerry seem anti-Israel.” Chris in his usual sniveling way avoided the substance–why do so many people think “apartheid” is an appropriate description?

      So if the neocons jump on this story, then it’ll be reported. If not, it probably won’t.

      As for the significance, I don’t know. Even those anonymous US officials in the interview spoke of both sides needing to make “painful” decisions, by which they meant that Palestinians would need to give up some of their basic rights, and the Israelis wouldn’t get to steal as much land as they want. And then they said that the US would continue to support Israel in the UN and against sanctions, which means Israel in effect gets a blank check. That needs to be reported. Don’t count on the US press doing it, or at least not the NYT.

  5. weareone on May 4, 2014, 11:01 am

    As Ramzi said on another thread:

    “Palestine will SOON be a state either through the UN/BDS/ICC/ICJ or through demographics.”

    And as Sycamores said on another thread-1S1P1V-a “rallying cry.” Great idea.

    1S1P1V! 1S1P1V! 1S1P1V!

  6. MRW on May 4, 2014, 11:19 am

    Big deal. So Obama blames Israel for failure of the talks, or his minions do. For those who didn’t want to see peace, they’re elated. For those who wanted peace or some change, this is nothing new, we all expected this as you properly noted in your first piece. And the rest of America doesn’t give a shit; they want jobs.

    I think exposing Netanyahu as disingenuous (lying about Abbas) and his flying off the handle at Kerry exposing him to the international community was far more useful as a window on Netanyahu’s credibility. And the apartheid comment Kerry made two Fridays ago. If anything, Obama’s genius has been in giving Netanyahu enough rope.

  7. American on May 4, 2014, 11:24 am

    I dont see this as meaningful at all.
    Blame is just talk, not action.
    And Isr could care less about ‘blame’, they will just crank the hasbara up louder and keep screaming holocaust! Jews! threats! anti semitism!…and keep on doing what they are doing.
    If Obama doesnt have the balls to come out in his own name and say what is what there is little chance he’s ever going to actually do anything about Israel.

    • paabrhm on May 4, 2014, 8:10 pm

      Double AMEN! Obama is a complete ZERO in his actions re P/I, so who cares what is in his heart?

  8. Kathleen on May 4, 2014, 11:24 am

    Matthew great piece. Have not read all of the links yet…but ba-boom. Will share everywhere I can.
    “Congratulations to our President and/or to whoever on his team decided to reveal the truth. A small dose of anonymous honesty is better than next to none. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Just as that day arrived for King and Vietnam, that time is here now at last. ”

    MT “The Palestinians, deservedly, just won that game. Or, more accurately, Israel lost.”

    I don’t think either side won or lost but the facts are out and this is great. But what should we expect from Israel at this point? Announcement of more illegal settlements, annexation of the pieces of Palestinian land on the West Bank that Israel brutally and illegally controls? What next? Will Israel become even more violent?

  9. American on May 4, 2014, 11:41 am

    ‘“A time comes when silence is betrayal.”’

    American politicians have been betraying America (and all law and human rights) for 65 years for Israel.
    Wake me when a honest President or serving politician is no longer silent on that bit of truth.
    That’ll be the day change will start happening.

    • RoHa on May 4, 2014, 8:05 pm

      “An honest President or serving politician…”

      Do I detect an oxymoron?

  10. DICKERSON3870 on May 4, 2014, 12:41 pm

    RE: “With its track record of self-censorship and repeatedly claiming ‘both sides are to blame’ so as to avoid any honest characterization of Israeli policies, will the New York Times ever set the record straight?” ~ Taylor

    ANSWER: Absolutely not! ! !*

    * SEE: “Why the U.S. Media Barely Covered Brutal Right-Wing Race Riots in Tel Aviv”, By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 6/17/12

    [EXCERPTS] Several weeks back, Israel was rocked by a night of right-wing race-riots targeting African refugees. . .
    . . . The story received very little coverage in the. . . States. . .
    . . . Recently, Middle East analyst MJ Rosenberg appeared on the AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the Tel Aviv riots, the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program and how the Israel lobby helps narrow the discourse around Israel in the United States. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion (you can listen to the whole interview here.)

    [EXCERPTS]
    • JOSHUA HOLLAND: From your inside perspective on that organization [AIPAC], what did you see as far as their tendency to call out criticism that they think is illegitimate or beyond the pale?
    • MJ ROSENBERG: They [AIPAC] consider all criticism of Israel illegitimate. It’s all beyond the pale. I suppose their definition would be if by some miracle someone like Joseph Lieberman made a statement critical of Israel it would be legitimate. When I worked there in the ’80s, back before everyone had computers, they had a big war room where all they did was assemble every bit of data on members of Congress, on candidates, but also on writers, celebrities – anyone in the public eye.
    In those days they would just put them in these folders. They always had at hand all this negative information — what they considered negative information — to tar people as being anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That stuff would be given to reporters if something came up. They were either initiated on their own to give to reporters or some reporter called them because they had a treasure trove of information.
    They still operate that way. In those days they did it directly; now they have former staffers and people who are close to the organization in the blogging world and political world who do it for them. They do it so much. When you read that someone is anti-Israel they’re the ones putting it out there. They’ve got the data. . .
    [snip]
    • JOSHUA HOLLAND: . . .Speaking of our discourse, I want to talk about an issue that came up recently that’s gotten very little coverage in the United States. There were a series of violent race riots by right-wing Israelis against African immigrants in Tel Aviv. This was a big deal. I was looking at the US coverage and it was amazing at how little attention these riots received. . .
    • MJ ROSENBERG: . . .This is a common thing. When there are bad things going on inside Israel — the way they treat the Palestinians and in this case the way they’re treating these poor African refugees from loathsome regimes who wind up in Israel — these stories are … I don’t want to say suppressed in the United States, but it’s striking how much coverage they get in Israel itself and how a paper like the New York Times is too scared to touch it.
    I have to say they’re afraid to touch it. The reason is when an American outlet talks about Israel in any way that’s negative, or reports on anything negative about Israel, they will be inundated with complaints from powerful people who will tell them, “why are you picking on Israel?” They always say, “why is it that China is doing all these things and you’re not writing about that?” Of course, they do. You even see it in the blogosphere too, the intimidation. If you aren’t utterly secure in your position in the media then you don’t mess with Israel. More to the point, you don’t mess with the people here who are Israel’s enforcers. . .

    ENTIRE (LIGHTLY EDITED) TRANSCRIPT – http://www.alternet.org/story/155866/why_the_u.s._media_barely_covered_brutal_right-wing_race_riots_in_tel_aviv/

    • DICKERSON3870 on May 4, 2014, 12:45 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE – “The AIPAC Politics of Smear: The Secret Section in Israel’s U.S. Lobby That Stifles American Debate”, By Gregory D. Slabodkin, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1992, pages 7-8, 89-91

      [EXCERPTS] During the reign of terror that Senator Joseph McCarthy unleashed in the 1950s, when the reputations and lives of many loyal Americans were ruined by false charges of “communism” and “treason,” American Jewry was overwhelmingly opposed to the Wisconsin senator and his blackmail by blacklists. According to the Gallup polls of the time, the percentage of U.S. Jews who opposed McCarthy’s smear tactics was twice that of the rest of the population. Many Jewish organizations passed resolutions condemning McCarthy’s ruthless character assassination.
      Today, however, such national Jewish organizations as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are using the same tactics to stifle open debate of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
      • Secretly Circulated Lists
      To conduct this “neo-McCarthyism,” AIPAC operates a covert section within its research department that monitors and keeps files on politicians, journalists, academics, Arab-American activists, Jewish liberals, and others it labels “anti-Israel.” AIPAC selects information from these files and secretly circulates lists of the “guilty,” together with their alleged political misdeeds, buttressed by their statements, often totally out of context.
      Just as McCarthy’s permanent investigations subcommittee labeled criticism of specific policies of the U.S. government as “anti-American,” or “pro-Soviet,” AIPAC labels criticism of Israeli government policies “anti-Israel,” “pro-Arab” or “pro-PLO.” Still worse is the pro-Israel lobby’s redefinition of “anti-Semitism” to include any such criticism of Israel or its actions. . .
      . . . AIPAC’s “opposition research” department traces its roots to I.L. (Sy) Kenen, who founded AIPAC in 1954. As editor of AIPAC’s weekly Near East Report, he often attacked critics of Israel in his aptly titled column, “The Monitor.” Besides monitoring, analyzing, and responding to “anti-Israel” comment and activities in the United States, Kenen also kept files on AIPAC’s “enemies.” In his final year AIPAC began to expand its intelligence-gathering operations.
      Kenen’s memoirs, “Israel’s Defense Line: Her Friends and Foes in Washington”, record how AIPAC pooled resources in 1974 with the American Jewish Committee and other national Jewish organizations to create a “truth squad.” Its purpose was to combat “pro-Arab propaganda” and the emerging “Arab lobby,” which Kenen believed to be a growing threat to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
      “While vigorously defending Israel’s perceived interests, the organizations that created the truth squad turned into a kind of Jewish thought police,” journalist Robert I. Friedman explains. “Investigators—sometimes overzealous Jewish college students, sometimes sources with access to U.S. intelligence agencies—were used to ferret out critics of Israel, Jew or gentile, wherever they might be. At ADL and AIPAC, files were opened on journalists, politicians, scholars and community activists. Their speeches and writings were monitored, as were, in some cases, their other professional activities. And they were often smeared with charges of anti-Semitism or with the pernicious label of self-hating Jew. The intention was to stifle debate on the Middle East within the Jewish community, the media and academia, for fear that criticism of any kind would weaken the Jewish state.”
      When Kenen stepped down as executive director of AIPAC in December 1974, the task of monitoring Israel’s “enemies” was left to the department of research and information at AIPAC, where it has remained ever since. . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.wrmea.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10030:the-secret-section-in-israels-us-lobby-that-stifles-american-debate&catid=141

      P.P.S. FROM BELOW THE ABOVE-EXCERPTED ARTICLE: Gregory D. Slabodkin, a free-lance writer in Washington, DC, was an opposition researcher for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in 1990 and 1991.

  11. Henry Norr on May 4, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Nice piece, Matthew. I certainly agree that the interview is a surprising and welcome development. Your piece, though, seems to suggest that it represents a total turn-around in the situation, and I don’t share your optimism about that. For one thing, as you acknowledge, the US media has ignored it so far, and if they do pic it up in coming days, they’ll probably distort it beyond all recognition. But beyond the media and PR aspects of the situation, everything depends on what the Palestinians do next, and as long as Abbas remains in office in the PA, and de facto on the US/Israeli payroll, I don’t have any confidence that they’ll pursue an aggressive strategy at the ICC, UN, etc.

    I’m also still wrestling with a big question about the interview: why did the interviewee(s) present themselves as so unbelievably uninformed, naive, and just plan stupid? It can’t really be true that they are as ignorant whole history of the “peace process,” Netanyahu’s character and ideology, etc. as they sounded in that discussion. So they must have deliberately chosen to adopt that pose, but I can’t figure out what the angle is that they’re trying to play by doing that.

  12. DICKERSON3870 on May 4, 2014, 1:12 pm

    RE: “Not only is this remarkable in how it might affect Israeli politics (although I’m not holding my breath for a leftist Israeli gov’t) ~ Taylor

    MY COMMENT: Good, because I would hate to see you turn all purple and develop rigor mortis! Netanyahu or not, I believe Israel has passed the “tipping point”. This is not your grandfather’s (nor even your father’s) Israel! Not to mention that the depraved, far right-wing, American political consultant Arthur J. Finkelstein is “large and in charge”.*

    * SEE: “Likud activists pushing for Liberman-Kahlon bond in next election”, by Gil Hoffman, jpost.com, 4/23/14

    [EXCERPTS] A poll found that if Liberman ran on a ticket with Kahlon, the party would win 22 seats and beat the Likud.
    Key Likud activists, including heads of party branches, are pushing former communications minister Moshe Kahlon to run with Yisrael Beytenu in the next general election, political sources revealed Tuesday.

    The sources said that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman had been petitioned by Likud activists to make a bond with Kahlon, as he did with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the last election.

    Liberman and Kahlon are close friends.

    They both recently gave interviews in which they were complimentary of each other and critical of Likud. Liberman ruled out running with Likud, though Kahlon left the door open to remaining in Likud if it adopted a socioeconomic agenda.

    A Ma’agar Mohot poll broadcast on Channel 10 last Thursday found that if Liberman ran on a ticket with Kahlon, the party would win 22 seats and beat the Likud, which would win 19, and Labor, which would win 18.

    Makor Rishon columnist Sofia Ron Moria reported that Liberman and Kahlon’s associates had held several meetings about joining forces and that Yisrael Beytenu’s American strategist Arthur Finkelstein was involved in the effort.

    Finkelstein was the architect of the Likud Beytenu bond before the last election.

    The report said the party had requested in-depth surveys to examine the possibility. . .

    . . . Right-wing activists in Likud have been taking out ads in Hebrew in recent days, pushing Likud ministers to oppose a prospective deal with the Palestinians in which Israeli Arab prisoners would be freed. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Likud-activists-pushing-for-Liberman-Kahlon-bond-in-next-election-350136

  13. irishmoses on May 4, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Two great articles Matthew, but your predicted outcomes border on the delusional.

    I think Netanyahu and gang are just waiting for some act of provocation by the Palestinians they can use as a pretext for annexation of Area C. Their argument will be that unilateral acts by the Palestinians through the UN, with Hamas, or by “handing back the keys” show Israel has “no partner for peace” and therefore Israel is justified in imposing a solution that allegedly both protects Israel’s security concerns and gives the Palestinians the autonomy of their own “state”.

    Annexation of Area C would solve a lot of problems for Netanyahu:

    1. It gives Israel “legal” control over the entire West Bank with only the internal cantons available for some sort of Palestinian entity.

    2. It keeps Gaza out of the mix and prevents any kind of true Palestinian unity.

    3. It keeps the Palestinian external refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan out of the mix and makes RoR a non-issue.

    4. It gives Israel almost all the natural resources of the West Bank (water, gas).

    5. It adds relatively few Palestinians to the “demographic problem” (150,000 or so).

    6. It provides a modfied “single-state solution” without all the demographic dangers that including Gaza, the rest of the West Bank, and the external refugees would pose to Israel.

    7. The Hasbara machine can spin this as a regrettable but acceptable outcome that Israel reluctantly took when it became clear it no longer had a partner for peace.

    I think Netanyahu and the Greater Israelites now know they have nothing to fear from the US and they see the EU as a paper tiger. And, despite MW enthusiasm, BDS isn’t much of a threat because there are powerful Jewish constituencies in the US and EU, unlike apartheid South Africa which had virtually no constituency in either the US or the EU. I think BDS is a marginal threat at best and the Israelis know it.

    Zionism dumped the Brits once they were no longer useful. I think they are prepared to dump the US next and adopt Russia/China as their new major power benefactors. The future they see is in strong ethnocracy, not feeble democracy.

    A careful reread of Roger Cohen’s bleak NYT oped of 4/25 and the MW discussion of same (link to mondoweiss.net) is in order for all you MW cockeyed optimists who can’t see the handwriting on the wall.

    • bilal a on May 4, 2014, 2:45 pm

      Is Israel a time machine which gives us an insight into Zionist culture prior to American semi-assimilation?

      Then we see a brutal supremacism indifferent to the concerns and interests of its neighbors., steadily moving forward by criminal conquest, all the time using the language of liberal inclusion.

      This is predictive and consistent with your pessimism. Expect annexation to be followed by expulsion, protected and given cover by the American liberal class.

      What comes next ?

  14. Pixel on May 4, 2014, 1:29 pm

    “I think Netanyahu and gang are just waiting for some act of provocation by the Palestinians they can use as a pretext for annexation of Area C. “

    Waiting?

    They’ll create it.

  15. David Doppler on May 4, 2014, 1:54 pm

    I think we see if the Tom Friedmans and Jon Stewarts take this on, as they each did a few weeks ago, in their own very different, but very popular ways. Friedman lectured the nation that these settlers are not the Israelis you met in summer camp, he sees that American Jews do not and will not continue to embrace the consequences of their intransigent racism, and he’s chosen his side. Stewart lampooned Adelson as a swaggering oligarch intent on controlling with obscene political funding what Republicans can say about Israel.

    Journalists who care about journalism in the Middle East must read this blog, at least occasionally, especially for stories like this one, and each must choose whether to be a sock puppet for hasbara or a reporter on big stories like this. Academics place extraordinary value on academic freedom, freedom of speech, and, although the Lobby can try to punish them for taking up the cause of justice in Palestine, that will be counter-productive in the long run.

    So the Judo Master has thrown Netanyahu, using his own momentum, and we will see where he will fall. The racist settler movement has won internally in Israel, and Netanyahu has held his coalition together through the test. But momentum is everything. As Palestine moves forward in the international organizations and American Jews refuse to defend atrocities and BDS gathers steam, where does the momentum take Netanyahu? Great use of tactics in pursuit of no discernible strategy.

  16. Kay24 on May 4, 2014, 2:09 pm

    Interesting article. I think Obama’s hands are tied (with AIPAC chains) and he knows that to condemn any behavior by Israel and penalize it, would be met with growls from Israel’s guard dogs in congress. Their alien master has made sure those campaign contributions are put to good use, and will whip them into submission.
    Whoever leaked this information and decided to inform the world, as we all knew, that Israel has deliberately rejected peace for it’s greedy need for stolen lands, and that it reneged on it’s word to release prisoners, and that the blame must fall squarely where it belongs – on the side that stubbornly cling to the status quo. This brutal occupation keeps giving Israel the excuse for endless illegal settlements, and control of water etc. There is a deadly silence coming from the zionist servants in the American media. Not one American journalist or news channel even referred to these new developments, the breakdown of the peace talks, the accusations of Israel being the culprit who rejected peace, and that the Palestinians have been made the scapegoats. If any of the Sunday talk shows discussed this, or updated their viewers that the US does blame Israel for the failure, I did not see it. This too will be swiftly ignored and covered up by the media, and the American people will once again be ignorant of the truth. I do not have hope that President Obama will change the Israeli control of the US, or that these latest developments will initiate that change. Israeli lobbies have deviously spread the poison into our political system, the media, think tanks and financial institutions.
    There is no way we can be rid of this toxic alien nation. It has thrived by being firmly ingrained into our nation and culture, and it exists through deceptions and intimidation. The rest of the world will perhaps take this truth and act upon it, but as usual the US will continue to have a lapse of memory, or feign ignorance, and keep supporting this parasitic burden.

  17. eljay on May 4, 2014, 3:56 pm

    >> link to theguardian.com
    >> Netanyahu: “The state of Israel provides full equal rights, individual rights, to all its citizens, but it is the nation state of one people only – the Jewish people – and of no other people. … ”

    Bibi issues a clear and unequivocal “fuck you” to non-Jewish Israelis, who comprise 20% of the Israeli population: You have full equal rights…except you don’t, because you live not in an Israeli state – a secular and democratic nation state of and for all Israelis, equally – but in a supremacist “Jewish State” – a nation state of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

    King of the Jews or not, Bibi is truly a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist asshole.

  18. mondonut on May 4, 2014, 8:31 pm

    Right of Return of Palestinian refugees to which Israel agreed as a condition of its membership…

    100% False

  19. TwoRedDogs on May 5, 2014, 2:23 am

    Good piece.

    This week we had the Barnea revelations, numerous price tag attacks, the ex-Shin bet guys revealing how nothing is done about price tags because they don’t want to, the video of the teens being threatened by an IDF guy in Hebron.

    All that, and what does Rudoren, on an extended birthright decides to go with a basically ‘Poor Israel, how can she be expected to make peace when it needs to contend with the likes of Islamic Jihad’ piece.

    Hoenlin and Lauder have been writing, talking about how they have many assets and they will not hesitate to utilize them to fight BDS, delegitimization etc. NYT is just one of many assets they have in their toolbox.

  20. brenda on May 5, 2014, 2:44 am

    I was happy to see the interview in y-net, but I would stop short of claiming Obama outmaneuvered Netanyahu.

    “I imagine him saying: “Only do this if it’s a win either way… It’s a win if the impossible happens and we get a positive outcome, and it’s also a win if it produces nothing and we seize the moment to set the record straight as to who’s fundamentally at fault.”

    The only way it is a win to set the record straight on fault is if this is translated into an action ending the occupation of Palestine. I expected that Obama would either obtain a final status agreement (less likely) or pass the ball to the UN/EU having proved fault (more likely). Either way, it would be a win and well worth the enormous energy poured into this latest “peace process”. Until Obama makes that pass… the Palestinians are more in danger now than they were before the Kerry mission.

  21. seafoid on May 5, 2014, 4:11 am

    Netanyahu is just a souped-up version of Hophmi, really

    http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/outside-edge/.premium-1.588662

    “Back before he was prime minister, Bibi told us he used to lurk in web chatrooms, engaging in anonymous debate with critics of Israel from the Gulf and other inaccessible places”

    • adele on May 5, 2014, 10:42 am

      great find seafoid. Perhaps nuttyahoo lurks amongst us? :-) If so, ahlan bibi.

  22. NickJOCW on May 5, 2014, 7:08 am

    I think Matthew’s analysis is correct, but I believe Obama’s broader target may be the cleansing of the stables on the Hill. The way to do that is to emasculate AIPAC etc., and the way to do that is to pass the Palestinian predicament to the global community, and the way to do that was to let it deteriorate in broad daylight with blame clearly seen to lie with Tel Aviv. What intrigues me is to wonder how much Abbas may have been in such a loop. He is, after all, a sort of Palestinian Pétain. I also imagine he and Obama get on quite well and it’s perfectly possible there has been the sort of behind the scenes activity we later learned had been going on with Tehran. It may seem a tortuous route taken at the expense of the Palestinians but if it works it could solve many problems more peaceably than might otherwise have been the case.

    • Kay24 on May 5, 2014, 8:14 am

      All the Obama administration has to do is, start being open and honest about Israel’s many crimes, apartheid policies, and allow the Palestinian suffering to be publicly mentioned. He has to bypass the zionist media, who dare not even mention the failure of these talks and the true reason it failed. It never mentions that primarily it was Bibi’s greed for lands, and the fact that he broke his word, when he did not release those prisoners. His administration only has to speak the truth, and the truth will hurt the zionists. I am disgusted that the zionist media here, and that it either downplays, or ignores, the ongoing crimes against humanity by Israel, exaggerates, or even lies, about the dangers from the Palestinians, implying they are all terrorists, allows dishonest Israeli officials to spew their propaganda and lies unchallenged, and deliberately keeps Americans ignorant about the real story.
      It is time the Obama administration remedied the problem. All they have to do is speak the truth, not hard to do. It will be simply shedding light on the cockroaches.

  23. pabelmont on May 5, 2014, 9:27 am

    The USA (and this article) seem still to be fixated on two cardinal principles of the long-standing “peace process” mind-set. Both are, IMO, wrong and need to be replaced.

    First, the insistence on peace-making as the primary focus of world attention (or USA attention) is wrong. It is clear now (to everyone) that (and why) it didn’t work. And nothing changes the basic calculus: Israel will not even come close to proposing a peace which the PLO can accept. Israel wants to hold on to most of Greater Israel, and refuses to consider returning to the Green line.

    Second, the settlements (and especially, for some odd reason, settlement growth rather than the settlement project in its entirety) is an impediment to peace making (peace making: there it is again!) but is not described as an illegality which must be rolled back (in its entirety).

    So, what should the USa and the nations do?

    First, put “peace” as a concern on the shelf for a while. the time is not right.

    Second, describe the entire settlement project as illegal under two heads: [1] the settlement buildings — residences, factories, government buildings not related to administration of the occupation), universities, movie theaters, swimming pools — are built on land illegally expropriated and must be dismantled (destroyed, the rubble removed); and [2] the settlers are residing in OPTs illegally and must be removed.

    Having described the situation under [2], the urgent necessity is to negotiate a sanctions-backed regime for the removal of the people, the settlement buildings, and the wall. Throw in the siege on Gaza and maybe some water-related things.

    These negotiations will not pan out in a day, but since they will contemplate no other outcome than enforcing international law, agreements, and human rights norms, agreement (apart from schedule and the sanctions regime) should be easy enough.

    Israel’s horrible record — ignored world-wide for so many years — can now be seen (painted) as the cause of a “disaster” (the failure of the “peace process”) and the time may now be right for the program I’ve outlined.

    • NickJOCW on May 5, 2014, 10:36 am

      Pabelmont, What you suggest are the objectives of the BDS movement.

      1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
      2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
      3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

      http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro

      I think the only thing that needs doing now the US has put it on autopilot is to garner support for the movement in every way possible. Not as Jews or gays or Brits or whatever, just as people.

  24. American on May 5, 2014, 9:55 am

    U.S. envoy Indyk likely to resign amid talks blowup
    By Barak Ravid | May 4, 2014 | 12:32 AM | 15

    The U.S. special envoy for peace talks, Martin Indyk, is considering resigning following the blowup of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and in light of President Barack Obama’s intention to suspend American mediation, according to Israeli officials in Jerusalem who are close to the matter. The officials asked to remain anonymous due to the issue’s sensitivity.

    The officials said Indyk had already informed the Brookings Institute – where he is vice president and director for foreign policy – that he might soon be returning to his post, from which he took a leave of absence nine months ago. Two senior officials at Brookings approached by Haaretz with questions on the matter each responded, “No comment.”

    In Jerusalem, it is believed that Indyk is the senior American official – anonymously quoted in a report published Friday in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth – mainly blaming Israel for the failure of the talks. According to the report, the senior official claimed that “the main damage to the peace talks comes from the settlements,” and that, during the talks, “Netanyahu did not move more than an inch.”

    The senior Israeli officials said these harsh statements are an indication that Indyk is laying the groundwork for a resignation. Although they say Indyk has not made a final decision, it is believed it will not be possible to renew the talks in the near-future, and the fact that the White House does not want to invest further efforts in the process has reinforced the envoy’s desire to leave his post.

    The atmosphere at the White House since the talks ended is reportedly one of deep frustration that major American efforts over the past nine months have ended in failure. A senior European diplomat who met recently with senior U.S. officials said Obama’s statement about a “pause” in American involvement in the peace process was very clear. “The White House has no desire to do anything now on the Israeli-Palestinian matter,” the diplomat said. “They are simply standing aside and not getting involved.”

    continued…..http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.588834

  25. seafoid on May 5, 2014, 10:36 am

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.588916

    “As soon as Zionism became a figure of speech of the settler-right movement, as soon as dispossession and occupation received a Zionist seal of approval, I began to cringe at the term and the implications that came with it.

    This is no minor thing. Terms like “Judaism” and “national homeland” have been part of the language of Labor movement leaders throughout the generations, and something traumatic had to happen for a Zionist like me to end up feeling this way. When MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and his cohorts say that legislation is needed to prioritize the Jewish over the democratic, I feel that Judaism is being weighed against a value that, for me, is equally important – democracy – and I know what the hidden intentions of the idea’s proponents really are. Their Judaism is an imperialistic Judaism, one that is dismissive of the Arab minority that lives in Israel. And Avigdor Lieberman, who does not come from a religious-Jewish background or motivation, openly and shamelessly offers his seal of approval.

    It’s not just to Judaism and Zionism, but also to the state of Israel, that my attitude is changing. This is my country and nothing can shake that. But having come to see that the Israel as represented by the government does not genuinely want to achieve peace with the Arab world, my respect has declined for the government and decision makers, who’ve changed Israel’s image from a peace-seeking country to one that is cloaked in fears, as depicted by our leading spokespeople. “

    • ziusudra on May 5, 2014, 12:24 pm

      Greetings seafoid,
      As always, i share your feelings & convictions.
      …. Their Judaism is an imperialistic Judaism…..
      Their = Zionist right wing Governments since 48 ?
      OK.
      But where does religion fit into their imperialistic ideology?
      These are Euro conquerors, w/or w/o religion.
      No religion need be mentioned. No religion is at fault here.
      Neither Judaism nor Islam ever had a temporal religious institution which declared wars, like my Catholic Church, instigated in 1095 AD; a total of 8 crusades in 200 yrs! Not even all the denominations of Protestantism ever
      endorsed wars after 1648 AD.
      ziusudra
      PS Very good Piece, seafoid, shalom, salam.

    • JeffB on May 6, 2014, 10:01 am

      This is my country and nothing can shake that. But having come to see that the Israel as represented by the government does not genuinely want to achieve peace with the Arab world,

      This is just nonsense from the author. Israel is achieving peace with the Arab world. The recent alliance with SCAF is evidence of that. A much more enduring peace than good feelings, a peace based on shared interests and objectives. What Israel is achieving in Egypt is what peace looks like in the real world. And that far more than concessions is what causes people to overlook disagreements and come to have good feelings as behavior changes belief.

  26. James Canning on May 5, 2014, 2:15 pm

    I of course see the continuing stupidity of the US Congress in effectively rewarding Israel for growing the illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank, as the primary problem.

    Obama did blunder badly by not backing Hillary Clinton in 2009 when she wanted to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish colonies.

  27. Mayhem on May 5, 2014, 8:11 pm

    No kudos for Obama and Kerry.
    The United States must bear the responsibility for this debacle. Read
    “A Tragedy of Errors: US Incompetence in Israel-Palestine Talks” at
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/05/05-5

    • James Canning on May 6, 2014, 1:40 pm

      I continue to understand that Dennis Ross played a key role in convincing Obama to “blink”, after Hillary Clinton wanted to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

    • biorabbi on May 6, 2014, 2:18 pm

      If Obama is so mean and scary to give the middle finger to Israel as some are purporting, then why does he use Martin Indyck in a soundproof room with a metaphorical cover over his head. Is this supposed to scar Bibi?

      Take a look back when you had a read SOB at state and a President people actually respected. Remember Baker at state giving the famous phone number in public when the Israelis were ready to negotiate? and the first George Bush.

      Do the Israelis respect Kerry and his scared, little pimp Indyck on deep, deep, deep background, giving his whining drivel? Do the Palestinians? Does the arab world? Does Putin? Hillary Clinton will be a distinct improvement over what the Obama administration has turned into. The “peace process” is dying in any event, but the clown-act of Kerry et al, only hastened its demise.

  28. MHughes976 on May 6, 2014, 2:48 pm

    Well, you read of great leaders and their elite troops charging and outmanouevring their enemies. You think of Napoleon sending in the Polish lancers or Caesar throwing the Tenth Legion into the thick of it. But Obama’s sending in the Anonymous Proxies, of all feeble beings, seems barely distinguishable from running away. We may be having another of our fits of premature optimism.

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