By Barry Rubin
Could President Barack Obama’s strategy possibly be more obvious to Israel? Not for the mass media, of course, but for Israel. Here’s a summary: Due to the Obama Administration’s ineptness, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is planning to ask the UN to give it unilateral independence in September. But rather than use its leverage against the PA–including pointing out that what it’s doing is contrary to every U.S.-guaranteed agreement that the PA signed with Israel during the last 18 years–the Obama Administration wants to use its leverage on Israel to force it to save Obama.
You see, Obama will find it hard to escape vetoing the PA’s bid in the Security Council before it ever gets to the General Assembly. This will not make Obama or the United States more popular with Muslims or Arabs. So Obama wants Israel to pay the price in exchange for…nothing.
To avoid the PA declaring unilateral independence without making any concessions, Obama wants Israel to accept what amounts to the PA getting independence without making any concessions! But it won’t be unilateral, right? Obama’s plan is for Israel to negotiate, turn over the all of the West Bank to the PA as soon as possible and then negotiate on all the issues with a PA-led state. Of course, that means Israel would give up all of its bargaining chips at the beginning of the negotiation rather than get something for them at the end in exchange for Palestinian concessions.
And, of course, Obama wants Israel to depend on his promises and support, not exactly reliable, right?
What’s really going on is that Obama wants Israel to take enormous risks and give up a huge amount of political capital, thus endangering its citizens and future in order to spare Obama from vetoing the PA’s initiative. And since Obama takes no strong action against the Fatah-Hamas coalition, he’s asking Israel to give these concessions to an interocutor that includes genocidal-minded antisemitic terrorists working with Iran, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The argument the Obama administration and its supporters is using–despite being taken seriously in the mass media–is absurd. Namely, Israel must make big concessions to give the PA a state as fast as possible because otherwise the Europeans will support unilateral Palestinian independence at the UN.
But wait a minute! First, if the U.S. government would use real leverage, leadership, and even some arm-twisting, this European action wouldn’t happen. Second, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy have already said they won’t back the PA’s move. So what’s Israel going to do, turn over the West Bank real fast to avoid having Spain and Sweden vote against Israel at the UN? Third, the U.S. government can just veto the plan. Problem over.
If Obama didn’t want to have to veto unilateral independence he should have been pressuring the PA to back down, the UN not to cooperate with this campaign, and his allies not to vote for it. Instead, Obama is seeking the easy way out: have Israel give the PA so much that it gives up the idea voluntarily. Why demand what the United States has already given to you?
And it doesn’t take a genius to understand that the kind of signal Obama is giving the PA is disastrous in other situations. Go against U.S. wishes, sabotage its policies, attack its allies, don’t fulfill your commitments, align with terrorist groups, threaten to do something outrageous…and then the Obama Administration will give in and force your enemies (it’s own allies) to surrender.
Thus, what Obama is doing is ludicrous, trying to get Israel to pay for his mistakes and his refusal to press the PA on anything in exchange for Israel getting nothing and betting its future on a belief that Obama will protect it.
Sounds a bit different from the way the mass media presents things, right? And not bloody likely to happen.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His PajamaMedia columns are teased and other articles are available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.