On Monday morning, Nov. 9, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. It was the first meet-up between the two leaders in a year filled with monumental events and mounting catastrophes in the Middle East and around the world.
The two were joined by several top level aides. Obama had Vice President Joe Biden and his national security adviser, Susan Rice, while Netanyahu had his Ambassador to the U.S. and longtime confidante Ron Dermer. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, was also in the room.
The meeting was well-scripted: the topics included the main source of contention between these two cold friends, the Nuclear Iran Deal, which Obama sees as a cornerstone of his presidency and Netanyahu sees as an existential threat to his nation.
Other topics included Israel’s request for a long-term and greatly increased military aid package. The U.S. has repeatedly dangled such a package in front of Israel as a consolation prize for freezing out the Jewish state from its negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and then concluding a deal which was fervently opposed by Israelis across the political spectrum.
The two leaders also discussed the spreading assault on security across the Middle East, with the Syrian Civil War now in its fourth bloody year. That war has led to massive human displacement and structural collapse, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and the exodus of as many as can flee the region, bringing unskilled workers, rampant disease and a brutalized and frequently brutal wave of humanity onto the shores of Europe.
In addition, the growth of the barbarous ISIS and its slow but inexorable spread across the region, and in particular its encroachment into countries which border Israel had to inform the discussion of terrorism in the region, as well.
Before the meeting, Obama said: “It’s no secret that the security environment in the Middle East has deteriorated in many areas, and as I’ve said repeatedly, the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities. And that’s expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds.”
The recent upswing in terrorist attacks against Israelis by Palestinian Arab citizen-terrorists was a focus of the talk, with the Israeli Prime Minister assuring the U.S. President that he was committed to peace between his people and his Palestinian Arab citizens and neighbors.
The U.S. President said he and his administration “condemn in the strongest terms Palestinian violence against innocent Israeli citizens.” Obama added,”It is my strong belief that Israel has not just the right, but the obligation to protect itself.”
For his part, Netanyahu thanked the President for his continued strong support for Israel’s security.
The Israeli President also assured Obama that despite the carnage, he still wishes to see “two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.”
And there’s the rub. There is no way the Palestinian Arab leadership will or can ever accept a state that is demilitarized. And there is no way the Jewish State can accept yet another Arab neighboring state that refuses to recognize its legitimacy as a Jewish State, and/or one that is armed and will, in addition to its own genocidal wishes for Israel, will certainly be used as a proxy by Israel’s powerful enemies such as Iran.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus