Obama’s rapid embrace of the Hamas-Fatah government is a watershed moment, and it portends worse things to come.
Published in The Jerusalem Post  and Israel Hayom , June 6, 2014.
The big chill is setting in. Washington’s acquiescence in the Hamas-Fatah unity government – or dare we say Barack Obama’s green-lighting of the Palestinian maneuver – has left Israel ominously isolated.
Aside from some supporters in Congress, and perhaps Canada, Israel stands by its solitary self in absolute opposition to the new-old government cunningly created by Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniye.
Just about every government in the world is prepared to swallow the Palestinian deception in which “technocrats” are to run government ministries as stand-ins for the real power brokers in Palestinian politics. Just about everybody is prepared to play dumb and pretend that Iranian-backed jihadists committed to the genocide of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel are not now going to be the recipients of Western aid and diplomatic cooperation.
No-one, not even Washington, is prepared to state plainly: Abbas has allied himself with the devil and thus placed himself and his government beyond the pale.
Nobody is prepared to admit the inevitable conclusions: Oslo is dead. Fatah and Hamas both seek to chip away at Israel’s international legitimacy and to avoid concluding peace at any cost. A Palestinian state would thus be a very bad idea. Israel has no Palestinian partner for a peaceful two-state scenario. Israel will have to draw borders on its own and fight off enemies in its own way – for the long term.
Yet Obama and Europeans are unable to acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority is defunct and Abbas is a derelict. They have, after all, invested so heavily in the PA and Abbas, and it’s anyway so much simpler to vilify Israel (especially Prime Minister Netanyahu) as the obstacle to peace.
Israel is left with poor policy options and in considerable diplomatic isolation.
The speed with which Washington moved to legitimize the new Palestinian government suggests to me that this is part of a long-planned distancing from Israel. The fact that the Administration hasn’t explicitly demanded that all factions of the new government explicitly hew to the Quartet principles tells me that all previous Western commitments to Israel are off the table. Vanished into thin air.
WE SHOULDN’T be surprised. Distancing America from Israel has been Obama’s modus operandi from day one, although his acolytes have been unwilling to concede this.
Obama himself clarified that this was his direction in a candid interview with Jeffrey Goldberg just a few months ago (March 2). Obama warned that Israel can “expect” to face international isolation and possible sanctions from countries and companies across the world if Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to endorse a framework agreement with the Palestinians and continues settlement building. He proceeded to lament the fact that America, in his words, didn’t any longer have absolute power in this “diffuse” world, and wouldn’t be able to “manage” the coming anti-Israel fallout.
There wasn’t too much anguish in Obama’s words. It didn’t sound like Obama was too upset about Israel’s impending isolation or the fact that America would “have reduced influence in issues that are of interest to Israel.”
Just the opposite; it was all very artificial. Obama was merely feigning dismay at the possible isolation of Israel, while in practice he was purposefully paving the way towards Israel’s isolation and an American distancing from Israel. Obama has led the world in that direction.
The give-away was Obama’s total failure, in that interview and in his subsequent acceptance of the Hamas-Fatah government, to place any onus of responsibility on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for advancement or retardation of the peace process. There was not and is not a smidgeon of answerability that he attaches to Abbas or the Hamas. Only to Netanyahu.
Abbas’ minions can savage US Secretary of State John Kerry, cast ugly aspersions on his motivations, organize demonstrations against him, brutally mock his proposals, intransigently reject any moves towards Israel, threaten renewed warfare against Israel, cozy-up to Iranian officials in preparation for such future battle, glorify terrorism against Israel, and cuddle with the Hamas – yet Obama remains mum.
Abbas says he will “never” recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, “never” forgo the so-called right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees, “never” accept Israeli security control of Jordan Valley and other key air and ground security assets, “never” allow Jews to live in Judea, and “never” accept Israeli sovereignty in any part of Old Jerusalem. Hamas can continue to stockpile Iranian missiles. Yet Obama has nothing to say about any of this.
Obama has nothing to say about Palestinian political culture that remains violent, anti-democratic, and wedded to historical lies. He issues no warnings of PA diplomatic isolation or economic collapse if Abbas doesn’t compromise and advance the peace process. He pins nothing on the defiant Palestinian Authority and its radical Islamic allies.
Failure can only be blamed on Israel. But of course, Obama truly regrets this and “wishes” he had the “influence” to arrest the isolation of Israel.
OBAMA’S RAPID embrace of the Hamas-Fatah government is a watershed moment. It is a turning point in US-Israel relations, and it portends worse things to come.
Next is a US-Iranian deal, coming perhaps as soon as next month, which apparently will allow the Iranians to maintain a full nuclear fuel cycle. This is a violation of every American commitment to Israel and every UN resolution that demanded the dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear effort. But Obama doesn’t care. He is going to cut a softy deal that delays the problem beyond his term as president, while essentially guaranteeing Teheran the additional time it needs to fortify and complete all components of a nuclear weapons arsenal.
After that will come a series of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and in international courts this fall, condemning and penalizing Israel. Internationalizing the conflict and criminalizing Israel was always the central Palestinian strategy, and Obama is now playing along. Alas, Obama will be “unable to manage” and mount a defense of Israel.
But Israel should not knuckle under. It stands quite alone, but what’s new about that? “Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9). Being “un-reckoned” is uncomfortable but familiar territory. And all is not lost. There is much more we can do to overcome the gaps between Israel’s perception of regional developments and those of other nations.
Eventually Hamas will attack from Gaza or win an election in the West Bank and the paper-thin veneer of Palestinian moderation will peel away. Moreover, the Palestinian issue is not all that important, and the two-state construct need not be a holy grail forever. Israel has allies in Congress and elsewhere; and reliance on current allies is not sacrosanct or etched in stone. There are always alternatives. Perhaps Netanyahu can capitalize on the current impasse for a fresh evaluation of Israel’s alliances and a determined re-assertion of its rights.