That does not deal, however, with how many unilateral concessions Israel is willing to give to do so and whether the Palestinian Authority—now believing it is victorious from having the U.N. recognize it as a state—would go along. Everyone knows this. So to say that Israel should try to get negotiations going again is equivalent to someone in America saying that it is important to improve the economy.
Yet the reality of coalition negotiations is this: Lapid doesn’t like Bennett and vice-versa; Lapid and Bennett don’t like Shas; Netanyahu doesn’t like Bennett and knows that adding him would create international costs. And by the way, would Bennett enter a government that started out by announcing a long freeze in construction?
So it isn’t as easy as mainstream conventional wisdom makes it seem.
It is also suggested the P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas might actually give up something to get negotiations going. Like what? Perhaps giving up law suits against Israel—which is now supposedly occupying the territory of an internationally recognized Palestinian state, allegedly achieved without any agreement with Israel—in the international court.
Well, maybe. But Abbas faces massive political pressure in his society that far exceeds anything Netanyahu faces. What will he get for giving up what he has claimed as a trump card, a great victory? He certainly doesn’t fear pressure from Obama. Unlike Israel, the Palestinians can do anything they want and not face costs or even public criticism from the American president.
In other words, the whole thing isn’t going to work. Obama might come away with just enough to claim some success, a claim that will be echoed in the mass media. But it would be meaningless.
From Israel’s standpoint, however, letting Obama take the bows as a great peacemaker is worthwhile as long as it doesn’t cost too much or involve too much risk. Ironically, because of Obama’s policies and the rising boldness of its enemies and a revolutionary Islamism that feels itself triumphant, Israel is going to need U.S. support a bit more in the coming four years.
Originally published at Rubin Reports under the title, “The Real Meaning of the Obama Visit to Israel and U.S.-Israel Relations in Obama’s Second Term.”