Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Magazine wrote in the Bloomberg View that President Barack Obama has recently said that Israel does not know what its own best interests area. The U.S. chief executive has had a famously contentious relationship with Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu, while also seeing his commitment to the security of Israel questioned. According to Goldberg, when informed about Israel’s decision to go ahead with plans to build in a settlement area, "Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry," adding that the president told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.
Goldberg wrote, "In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, 'Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.' With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation." According to Goldberg, Obama "has become convinced that Netanyahu is so captive to the settler lobby, and so uninterested in making anything more than the slightest conciliatory gesture toward Palestinian moderates, that an investment of presidential interest in the peace process wouldn’t be a wise use of his time."
"For Israel," Goldberg predicts, "the short-term consequences of Obama’s frustration are limited. The U.S. won’t cut off its aid to Israel, and Obama’s effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions will continue whether or not he’s fed up with Netanyahu. But it is in terms of American diplomatic protection – among the Europeans and especially at the UN – that Israel may one day soon notice a significant shift."
Warning that the U.S. may not support Israel in coming U.N. votes, such as the one that affirmed the Palestinian Authority's status as a nation status, Goldberg predicted that Obama may eventually offer "a public vision of what a state of Palestine should look like," and which would have its capital in East Jerusalem.
Tzipi Livni, who chairs the HaTnua party and is a former Deputy Prime Minister, said in a January 15 press conference that a “citizen’s appeal” is necessary to change the current Israeli government’s tactics and thus avoid isolation. An ardent nationalist, Livni said "All Israeli citizens should have received a wake-up call this morning, “ adding, "Everybody who has not yet awakened, everyone who still thinks things will be fine -- got up this morning to very sharp and clear statements by the U.S. President who said that the Israeli Prime Minister is leading the State of Israel towards severe isolation."
Livni also warned, "If a dramatic change does not occur and those sitting on the fence do not come out to vote -- Israel will continue to be led into isolation which will lead to violence and the impact we are already seeing in the economic situation." She added that strains between the U.S. and Israel should not be risked. "The United States is a key part of Israel's national security," said Livni. "You can like or dislike the President of the United States, but we're talking about our greatest friendship and the security of Israel, so these things should awake every Israeli citizen. This is a wake-up call."
Livni, who founded her party in December 2012, referred to the so-far stymied negotiations between the Jewish State and the Palestinian Authority. Avoiding negotiation, she said, only leads to further isolation and thus unilateral moves by the PA. "It was a very big achievement for the Palestinians at the UN," said Livni. "Unfortunately, it's not good and I think that if there were negotiations we would not have seen them grab a Palestinian state at the United Nations."
"Today we can go back into negotiations without all the preconditions of the last four years. Once Israel initiates this and the world stands with us we will be able to do this," she added. "As someone who led the negotiations with the Palestinians and was in the negotiation room I can tell you -- it is not impossible. There is no risk to Israel but rather the contrary. The greater risk would be not trying."
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.