Fair. Balanced. American.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Israeli center begins to reassert itself

Yoel Marcus in Haaretz:
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares at a cabinet meeting that the media exaggerated in describing the grave crisis with the United States and throws in a few more phrases from the "it'll all be fine" department, it is clear that he has neither learned nor forgotten anything. You didn't have to read Thomas Friedman's devastating column in The New York Times to know that there is a limit to the Americans' patience and their willingness to let us pour mud on their heads and call it rain.

If Bibi genuinely did not know, as he foolishly claims, that 1,600 more homes were being planned for East Jerusalem, he does not deserve to be prime minister. If he did know, and permitted Interior Minister Eli Yishai to announce the plan exactly during the visit of Joe Biden, who is both U.S. vice president and a friend to Israel, then there are two possibilities, each worse than the other: either stupidity or fear of the extremists in his cabinet. Either way, he is playing with fire.

It's not just the personal insult to Biden, our only friend in the White House today. It's the insult to the institution of the presidency, which no American can forgive. The presidency is sacrosanct in American democracy, and when Bibi rolls his eyes and says the incident should not have occurred and that in any event it happened in good faith and "we know how to handle such situations and shall do so calmly and responsibly," he reminds me of the guy in the joke who is looking for the "eye and ear" doctor. No such thing, he is told. "What's your problem?" And he replies, "What I hear is not what I see." [...]

Clinton did not use diplomatic language when she accused Bibi of undermining "trust and confidence in the peace process and in America's interests" by announcing plans to build 1,600 homes just as we came to start proximity talks with the Palestinians. The fury radiating from the White House is so great that were someone to introduce an anti-Israeli resolution in the UN Security Council the United States would join in. [...]

Livni was right when she attacked Bibi on Sunday for placing our national security in Yishai's hands. In retrospect it is clear how right she was to refuse to partner with Yishai in order to become prime minister without elections. America "hand" Zvi Rafiah, a great believer in America's feelings of friendship for Israel, said: "For more than 30 years I have not heard so harsh an American rebuke, and for the first time I fear for the future of our relations with the United States."
This is exactly the kind of piece that centrists in the Obama Administration had hoped for. If the center reassserts itself forcefully enough, Netanyahu may have an excuse to ally with Kadima rather than Shas.

On the other hand, more pieces like this could move things in the opposite direction.

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