Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sorry, we're busy right now

I was very optimistic about the prospects of advances in the peace process between Israel and Palestine. I had to believe that Obama and Netanyahu were on similar pages and would be working behind the scenes to make something happen regardless of what their public pronouncements have been.

Since then I've been extremely disappointed, especially with Netanyahu who is someone that I held in high esteem. Obama asked of him one simple favor: stop expanding settlements into Israel. That is but a tiny concession in the grand scheme of things, and one that the Israelis should have made immediately. Instead, Netanyahu minced Obama's words and has "restrained" new settlement building but has not stopped what the Israelis call natural growth.

You know, San Diego CA is a big American city and it arguably will continue to grow in the future. But just because we need space for natural growth of the city doesn't mean that it can grow into Mexico and turn that into America. If Detroit someday needs to grow, it isn't going to grow north into Canada, it is going to grow south into Michigan. So this idea of "natural growth" is total BS.

I'm not sure what Netanyahu is up to, and perhaps he is buying his time till the next American administration, calculating that Obama's stance (that the Israelis will ultimately need to make concessions in any peace agreement, which is obvious to any reasonable person on the planet) will be replaced by the mainstream Republican position (Israel should never concede a single thing and yet still expect peace). That being said, Obama is still the president now. He represents the will of the American people, who have (rightly) supported Israel for years. I think it is a slap in our faces for Netanyahu to refuse a favor as simple as no longer expanding settlements.

Obama can't really do anything about this right now, from a political point of view. However, there are things he can *not do*. The UN's Goldstone Report was strongly critical of Israel for its war in Gaza and the Israelis fear that it may be used as the basis for some war crimes trials in other nations. As a counter, the Israelis intend to push for a modification to the international laws of war so that terrorism can be adequately accounted for. I might normally agree with these sorts of changes. But if I was Barack Obama, and the Israelis came asking me to support these proposals at the UN, I'd be too busy to help out. If Netanyahu can't be bothered to do us a favor, I don't see why we should go out of our way to help him out.

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