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There are a number of reasons why Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime
minister, decided not to attend
the nuclear summit hosted by Barack
Obama, the US president.
They include deteriorating relations
with the US over expanding illegal
Jewish settlements on occupied lands, a frozen ‘peace process’, and
just bad chemistry between the rightist Israeli leader and the liberal
But more importantly there is no good reason for the Israeli leader
As one of the few countries that developed nuclear weapons and
refuse to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Israel has
nothing to gain and much to lose.
Considering its serious breaches, Israel has little to contribute to US
efforts on the nuclear front, except to make the concessions it is
least willing to.
Photo by EPA
Obama administration is considering proposing its own
framework for a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Frustrated by its failure to freeze Jewish settlements in the
occupied Palestinian territories, and subsequent failure to
get the negotiations back on track, the US government is
putting the two parties on notice: Define the contours of a
solution by autumn and negotiate its details, or we shall do it for you.
Photo from EPA
After year-long optimism that the three decade old US-Iran standoff might finally
come to an accommodation, the two sides are ratcheting up their rhetoric and in
the process risk new escalation with unpredictable consequences.
This weekend’s leaked US intelligence reports about Iran’s plans to build
new nuclear reactors are adding urgency to already tense relations.
Washington has taken advantage of Tehran’s nuclear programme and
regional ambitions to portray Iran as a dangerous regional power that
must be contained, deterred, and if/when necessary, confronted sooner
rather than later.
Washington’s ‘psychological warfare’ against Tehran has been fought in
the diplomatic and public opinion arenas, as well as in the Gulf where the
US military has been parading it war ships.
Media leaks drip-fed by the US and Israel envisions attacks on Iran’s nuclear
and military facilities as well as proxy wars against Iran’s allies.
photo from AFP
Soon after the US-Israeli fallout over the settlement issue in
Jerusalem took the form of a public spat, Joe Lieberman, the
leading backer of Israel in the US senate, demanded an end
to the family feud.
Considering his dual loyalties, it’s no wonder that the Zionist
senator is worried. “Let’s cut the family fighting, the family feud…
it’s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud… it just
doesn’t serve anybody’s interests but our enemies.”
But, like that of Tiger Woods, the US-Israeli spousal scandal
continues unabated despite the warnings. As Binyamin
Netanyahu, the prime minister, continued to embarrass his
US partner in public, Barack Obama refused to be
seen with him in public.
Instead, Netanyahu was let in from the back door of the
White House, away from the cameras.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has delivered another “The US
and I personally are in love with Israel” speech to America’s
pro-Israeli lobby – with a twist.
Her three-part speech at the annual policy conference of the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) on Monday
underlined Washington’s unshaken strategic and moral
commitment to Israel “for ever” and, in the second part, threatened
Iran with tougher sanctions and warned it will never allow it to
develop nuclear weapons.
In the third, and much awaited part, of the speech, Clinton
delineated a hardcore realist approach to the Arab-Israeli
conflict in the context of US security in the Middle East that
envisions a freeze on settlement paving the way for direct talks
that culminate in two states.
Photo by EPA
Over the last several months, Shimon Peres, the Israeli president,
and Barack Obama, the US president, have led the campaign
praise for Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister,
despite his extremist views.
Peres, for long Netanyahu’s political nemesis and considered the
architect of the 1993 Oslo Peace Process along with Mahmoud Abbas,
commended the right-wing Likud leader’s stance on peace as “brave and real”.
The Obama administration spoke in a similar tone, noting and praising
Netanyahu’s acceptance of the principle of a two-state solution and
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, celebrated the unprecedented
‘limited temporary freeze on settlement’!
The message from Israel and the US has been clear: Give
Netanyahu a chance. He means business.
Netanyahu, who boasts of knowing US power politics better
than most since his tenure in New York as ambassador to the UN,
seems to have outsmarted his US counterpart.
Photo by AFP
Poor Joe Biden. He’s come to deliver the good news: The US
is back in the Israeli fold and will continue to have boots on the
ground in the Middle East. And what does he get in return?
A shoe in the face.
The Israeli interior ministry’s announcement of 1,600 new
housing units (apparently part of 50,000 units in the long term)
in East Jerusalem settlements, hurled at the vice president during
his visit to Israel, provoked a political storm and outright condemnation,
leading to a clumsy apology from the prime minister.
Unlike Iraq, Israel is anything but occupied by America, but its
leaders have been terribly preoccupied by the Obama administration.
The US president’s appearance of neutrality at the outset of his
first year, as expressed in his Cairo and Ankara speeches, and
his administration’s pressure on Israel to freeze the illegal settlements,
have for all practical purpose, ruined his chances with the Israeli Right.
Photo from AFP
The US vice president’s visit to Israel has to a large degree
clarified the Middle East imperatives of the Barack Obama
administration in its second year.
Joe Biden’s cornerstone speech at Tel Aviv University is a
major downgrade and retreat from the bold commitments
made by President Obama in Turkey and Egypt.
The two-part speech will no doubt be read selectively.
Israeli leadership will underline the appeasement, commitment
and support in the first two-thirds of the speech, whilst the
Palestinian leadership will emphasise the overtures and
support for independence made in the last third.
The first part underlines the Obama administration’s and
Biden’s own adulation and commitment towards Israel.
It checks all the boxes.
The above report was produced by Al Jazeera