As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Israeli Pressure Points

I'm just dubious about Rahm Emanuel saying this.

Yedioth Achronoth, the largest circulation daily in Israel, reports today that President Obama intends to see the two-state solution signed, sealed and delivered during his first term.

Rahm Emanuel told an (unnamed) Jewish leader; "In the next four years there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn't matter to us at all who is prime minister."

He also said that the United States will exert pressure to see that deal is put into place. "Any treatment of the Iranian nuclear problem will be contingent upon progress in the negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory," the paper reports Emanuel as saying. In other words, US sympathy for Israel's position vis a vis Iran depends on Israel's willingness to live up to its commitment to get out of the West Bank and permit the establishment of a Palestinian state there, in Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

Clearly, the US would have to find some point of leverage to get this hardline Israeli government to agree to a two-state solution. Netanyahu and Lieberman are macho neocons who rebuff any talk of a Palestinian state. But would Emanuel really hold up Iranian negotiations as an attempt to force Israel to the bargaining table? That seems like a dangerous game to me. I believe that the US would push Israel away from bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities, but not hold up multilateral agreements.

Anyway, there's a very clear point of leverage for the Israelis - billions of dollars in American aid. That Emanuel didn't go there speaks to the power of the Israel lobby - although J Street is catching up fast. And considering that most American Jews support a two-state solution, clearly they would also support bringing some American pressure to bear. But you just cannot touch Israeli money - or offer Palestinian aid, apparently.

Meanwhile, Israel is really isolating themselves from the world community by refusing to cooperate with a UN inquiry into human rights violations during the Gaza war. Maybe this is another pressure point?

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