Refusing to Call Matters a 'Crisis', Obama Leaves Ball In Israel's Court

Stopping by The Economist just now, I see a dispute over an Andrew Sullivan land map outlining Palestinian loss of land from 1946 to 2000. Reading Jeff Golberg’s counter-analysis and having no opinion of my own, I’ve removed the contentious 1946 map because I don’t read substantial arguments about these three maps by Mr. Sullivan. Reliable maps in the Middle East are hard to find.

Moving from left to right: Map 1: UN Partition plan 1947; Map 2 1949-1967; Map 3: 2000

The original map is posted on The Economist, who agrees that the map missing here was misleading for reasons clarified in the link. The Economist then writes:

Jews, and the Israeli state, have, in fact, seized great quantities of Palestinian land in the territory of Israel/Palestine over the past 60 years. Israelis and Americans must acknowledge this fact to make any progress towards peace, and an accurate accounting of such seizures would be very valuable.

The Economist gives a late-week update on the Netanyahu\Obama relationship in A wall of suspicion.

In a very interesting essay NYTimes publishes Roger Cohen’s Lo, the Mideast Moves. Cohen compares Netanyahu to Kruschev and Obama to John Kennedy. That’s a thought-provoking interpretation of events.

In Australia, The Age follows up on yesterday’s BBC News report that the US is considering withdrawing its support for Israel in the UN. The US would not vote against Israel in the Security Council, but also not provide its depended-on veto, choosing to abstain instead.

In Jerusalem Haaretz says that Israel fears Obama is heading for an imposed Mideast settlement. Haaretz correspondent Ari Shavit writes what is a 100% Op Ed piece under the guise of reporting, but the words are captivating.

It is not just Obama’s demands that are perceived as problematic, but also the new modus operandi of American diplomacy. The fact that the White House and State Department have been in contact with Israel’s European allies, first and foremost Germany, is seen as part of an effort to isolate Israel and put enormous political pressure on it.

Israeli officials say that the Obama administration’s new policy contradicts commitments made by previous administrations, as well as a letter from George W. Bush in 2004 to the prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon. According to this view, the new policy is also incongruous with the framework posed by Bill Clinton in 2000.

Senior Israeli sources say that as a result of the U.S. administration’s policies, the Palestinians will toughen their stance and seriously undermine the peace process’ chances of success.

Moreover, sources in Jerusalem say that the new American positions undermine the principle of credibility that has guided U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II. Ignoring specific promises made to its Israeli ally would make other American allies lose trust in its commitments to them.

Israeli officials warn that if the United States shirks its past commitments, the willingness of the Israeli public to put its trust in future American guarantees will be undermined - as will the superpower’s regional and international standing.

We will only say that the attempt to represent President Obama and Secy of State Clinton as not working in close concert with key countries in the world on any American initiative in Israel is false.

This Haaretz op ed piece, posing as a news story, does raise the legitimate question of how does a country get out of previous foreign policy commitments, when they just plain aren’t working. As Prime MInister Netanyahu said correctly, Israel has been operating full speed ahead for 40 years, with little more than a hand slap from America. This pattern defines our relationship now and forever, from the Israeli hardliners point of view.

This moment the NYTimes has posted the results of a new poll inside of Israel, puloished in the Maariv daily:

Asked how they would define Israel’s international standing, only 14 percent of Israelis said it was good, 37 percent called it reasonable and more than 48 percent called it bad. The TNS/Teleseker survey questioned 500 people and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. via NYTimes

The Maariv poll showed that more than 46 percent of Israelis continue to support a peace deal with the Palestinians, including the return of major lands in the West Bank. Just under 39 percent said they were opposed to such a deal and 15 percent did not respond, writes the NYTimes.