Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apparently believes the greatest threat the
country now faces is an escalated European trade war. He’s wrong. The greatest
threat we are now facing is a national leadership that cannot get its arms
around changing strategic realities.
Over the weekend, Yediot Aharonot
reported that during Secretary of State John Kerry’s seven-hour meeting in Rome
last week with Netanyahu, Kerry warned that the price for walking away from the
talks with the PLO will be European economic strangulation of
According to the newspaper, “[T]he secretary of state told the
prime minister that he heard from his European friends... that if the
negotiations fail, Israel can forget about participating in the European
research and development program ‘Horizon 2020.’ “And that will only be the
More and far weightier actions to boycott Israel will follow.
They are already being prepared. This will cause incalculable damage to the
On Sunday, outgoing National Security Adviser Yaakov
Amidror warned the cabinet that Israel’s diplomatic standing and ability to
avert a European economic war is dependent on continuing the negotiations with
In his words, “It is absolutely clear that our ability to handle
international pressure is dependent on making advances in the negotiations. If
the negotiations fall apart, it will give justification to all the forces that
want to boycott us to do so.”
In other words, the viability of our
economy is dependent on the PLO’s willingness to sit at a table with
Actually, according to Amidror, the PLO’s sufferance of our leaders
is only half the story. The other half is President Barack Obama. As he sees it,
Israel’s international position is directly related to Obama’s
“Everyone hoping for Obama to be weakened needs to [understand
Israel will also be weakened. There is a connection between
Apparently based on fear of angering Europe or weakening
Obama, Netanyahu has reportedly agreed that early next year the Obama
administration will put forward a bridging proposal in the talks. The proposal
will have two parts. First, it will contain the details of a new interim
arrangement. Second, it will contain the details of a final
From Obama’s prior statements and consistent policies that
castigate the Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and united Jerusalem as
“illegitimate,” it is fairly clear that Obama and Kerry expect Israel to
relinquish its legal claims to Judea, Samaria and united Jerusalem in the
framework of a final peace.
From a legal and diplomatic perspective, such
a move by Israel would be the most disastrous it has ever made. It would empty
out our sovereign rights in general. And it would imperil our military
As to the interim deal, from American and European projects on
the ground today in Judea and Samaria it is apparent that the plan will require
Israel to cede to the PLO its control of planning and zoning in Area
Such a move will enable the Palestinians, Europeans and Americans to
strangle the Israeli communities in the region and render it practically
impossible for the IDF to operate in Judea and Samaria without PLO
THE PROBLEM with the government’s behavior is not simply that
it is maintaining allegiance to a policy paradigm that works to our extreme
That’s old news.
The problem is that we
are maintaining allegiance to a policy paradigm that is based on inaccurate
Amidror spelled them out.
operating under the assumption that there is a cause and effect relationship
between our actions and Europe’s. To wit, if we ditch the phony peace talks,
they will destroy our economy.
But there is no cause and effect
relationship between Israeli actions and European actions. Europe made hostility
toward Israel the centerpiece of its unified foreign policy without connection
to Israeli actions. So undertaking strategically damaging talks with the
Palestinians to appease Brussels is a fool’s errand.
Then there is
Amidror’s assertion that Israel has an interest in strengthening Obama, because
if he is weakened, we are weakened.
Certainly such an argument could have
been made with regard to Obama’s predecessors in office. But can it be made
today? Last week The New York Times revealed Obama’s foreign policy goals for
his second term. They are: “negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, brokering
peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and mitigating the strife in
Will the achievement of these goals – that is, the success of
Obama’s second term foreign policy – be helpful to Israel? Consider Syria. Obama
negotiated a deal with Russia regarding Syria’s chemical weapons that leaves
Iran’s Syrian proxy Bashar Assad in power, and according to chemical weapons
inspectors, likely in possession of parts of his chemical
Moreover, the Obama administration’s repeated exposure of
Israeli military operations against Hezbollah in Syria has harmed Israel’s
national security. The administration’s leaks have increased the prospects of
war between Israel and Syria.
So a key part of Obama’s Syria policy
involves exacting a huge, unexpected cost for every strike Israel has undertaken
to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring weapons systems that will imperil
Then too, Monday Kuwait’s al Anbaa newspaper reported that the
State Department is carrying out talks with Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to
Lebanese sources quoted in the article, US Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale has
told Lebanese leaders that “a cabinet cannot be formed without Hezbollah
Israel is a victim, not a partner in the US’s Syria
policy. Israel is weakened by Obama’s success.
As for Iran, it is now
inarguable that the US’s primary objective is not to prevent Iran from acquiring
nuclear weapons. It is to prevent Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear
installations. Here too, success for Obama requires Israel to be
Finally, our experience has shown us that peace is not a
possible outcome of Obama’s pro-Palestinian policy. The only beneficiaries of
administration’s use of European economic blackmail to force Israel to make
strategically suicidal concessions to the PLO are the PLO and Hamas, and the
anti-Semitic forces in Europe.
All of these parties reject Israel’s right
to exist. Weakening Israel in the manner Obama has laid out will increase their
appetite for aggression.
SO HERE we are, three for three. All of Obama’s
second term foreign policy goals are harmful to Israel. Everything that is good
for Obama is necessarily bad for Israel.
It is easy to understand why our
leaders insist on holding on to strategic assumptions that are no longer valid.
The region is in a state of flux. In stormy seas, our natural inclination is to
go back to what has always worked. Since 1968, the conviction that a strong
Israel is consonant with US global interests has guided US policy in the Middle
East. It’s hard to accept that this is no longer the case.
But we have to
accept it. By clinging to our now outdated strategic assumptions, not only are
we engaging in dangerous behavior. We are blinding ourselves to new strategic
opportunities presented by the chaos in neighboring countries.
new opportunities cannot replace our lost alliance with the US or Europe as a
trading partner. But they will get us through the storm in one
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