Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will Obama See Netanyahu The Way Clinton Saw Arafat? (Updated)

Apparently Obama has upped the ante with israel by demanding a freeze on construction in east Jerusalem--in particular 20 apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the National Police headquarters.

In a post from July 19, Arlene Kushner writes about the absurdity of Obama's latest demand:
"Good Move, Barack!"

Well, old Barack Hussein has finally done it. This megalomaniac who thinks he controls everything has gone too far:

In the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, there is a compound that was legally purchased by American businessman Irving Moskowitz in 1985. All papers are in order. The site originally belonged to the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Nazi collaborator and mentor of Yasser Arafat, and later became the Shepherd hotel. Plans now are to replace the hotel with a housing complex of some 20 to 30 apartments, to be purchased by Jewish families.

But Mahmoud Abbas was disturbed about these plans, because this would "shift the demographic balance" in the city. Which is to say that he covets eastern Jerusalem and wants to see it stay predominantly Arab.

(Clarification: It is predominantly Arab not because this was the historical situation, but because Jordan rendered the area Judenrein from 1949-67.)


Reports are that Abbas complained to the Americans. And what happens when Abbas protests? Seems that the American president jumps. Michael Oren, our ambassador to the US, was summoned to the State Department and told that the Obama administration wanted us to stop the building.

"Nothing doing," Oren told them.

What's important here is that, no only will we refuse, but that PM Netanyahu was reportedly incensed about this, saying that Obama had "crossed a red line." The issue here is very clear:

Jerusalem united is undisputedly our sovereign capital. Jews are allowed to build, and live, anywhere in the city. "This has always been Israel's policy and this is the policy of the current government," declared the prime minister.
"...There is no prohibition against Arab residents buying apartments in the west of the city and there is no prohibition barring the city's Jewish residents from buying or building in the east of the city. That is the policy of an open city that is not divided."
Read the whole thing.

The question remains: what is pushing Obama to make more intrusive demands on Israel?

Powerline offers some possibilities
Perhaps, in his efforts to impress the Arab world, he has simply become a messenger for Palestinian grievances. Perhaps he wanted to throw new demands into the mix in the hope of increasing his prospects for obtaining concessions on West Bank construction. It may also be the case that Obama doesn't know enough about Jerusalem and about Netanyahu's past practices to realize how ridiculous his latest demand would seem. And those in the State Department who do know probably would rather not educate the president.

In all events, Obama is losing credibility with Israel by the minute. And this loss of credibility would seem to diminish his ability not only to broker a peace agreement, but to be taken seriously on the narrow issue of settlements.
The bigger issue is Obama's credibility vis-a-vis brokering a peace agreement, since it will affect how he is perceived by the world at large. If he is seen as having caved to Israel, he will lose credibility not only with the Arab world, but with other countries that expected Obama to place real pressure and obtain major concessions from Israel on the way to a peace agreement in the not too distant future. Even countries that have no interest in pressuring Israel will be unimpressed with Obama's actions on the international stage.

Instead, will Obama find himself in a situation parallel to Bill Clinton, blaming Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular for a major failure in his record as President? While Obama is unlikely to say outright, "I'm a colossal failure, and you made me one," it is unlikely that Obama will take kindly to being rebuffed on what he has made a focal point of his foreign policy at the beginning of his term.

Obama is not going to back down.

UPDATE: It is not directly related, but this caught my eye from JammieWearingFool: 'You're Going To Destroy My Presidency'

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