Bibi has thrown in the towel. He admits that no force on earth can prevent the United Nations General Assembly from recognizing a State of Palestine. He also said, "It would be possible to get a resolution saying the world is flat." His implication: a resolution about a flat world would have the same effect as a resolution about a Palestinian state.
What the Prime Minister has described as something close to comic opera might have dangerous consequences. Israeli security forces are preparing for a range of possibilities. If Palestinians and their friends become violent, Israel might escalate dramatically with an eye toward nipping this intifada in the bud, and teaching a lesson that will keep the next one some years away. Think of Southern Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009. Or maybe something more severe. Senior military personnel have mentioned the need to be more thorough than in either of those operations.
Who would be responsible for such an unpleasant turn of events that might continue to spin out of control?
One explanation is the continued insistence by Palestinians of demands that no Israeli government can accept. The least amenable to compromise is the right of return for refugees and their families.
Another explanation is the rightward tilt of the Israeli government, and its refusal to freeze settlements or to consider withdrawing settlements (sizable or others).
Yet another explanation is the naiveté of Barack Obama, his failure to recognize the realities of Israeli and Palestinian politics, and his obsessive heating up of the long standing conflict by demanding an early resolution.
My own preference is for a combination of Palestinians and the American President unhinged from reality. I have little patience with proclamations of justice. The rights of refugees have as little standing in my pantheon as claims that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jews. I will not insist that Bibi and his colleagues are innocent of all charges. It is not clear to me that there have been any opportunities to have been missed since 1948. The conflict is potentially intense and may well be insoluble.
An unscientific reading of opinions that come to my in-box indicates substantial numbers of people thinking that evil resides in the headquarters of the Palestine Authority (West Bank as well as Gaza), Israel''s Office of the Prime Minister, and/or the American White House.
Perhaps none of the people in key positions are nice enough to be enjoyable partners over coffee on your balcony or mine. Again I''ll paraphrase Harry Truman: if you want a friend in a setting where there are a lot of politicians, buy a dog.
And to paraphrase James Madison in Federalist #51, there are no angels in this fight, just individuals looking after personal preferences, interests, and political realities as they see them. Madison actually wrote, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." Two hundred and twenty years after Madison, the reference to "men" is problematic, but the principle is the same.
The most recent comment to reach my mailbox is pointed, but actually quite mild by comparison with others.
"It has seemed to me that the 67 line, however arbitrary it might be, has been the de facto basis of measurement for a long time. I thought Netanyahu'' s objection was specious."
Also in my mail box is the assertion that the American President is nothing other than a Jew-hating Muslim, and that typical of Palestinians is:
"That old, old . . . lady . . . describing the massacre of Jews in Hebron with a smile on her face while remembering it, as she wished for us all to disappear by being murdered by her family."
What we are seeing is not an academic seminar where the points go to reasonableness of analysis, truthful and candid reporting, but defending crucial interests in a situation that can provide costly in treasure and blood. The game is political hard ball. If Bibi can forestall violence or the withdrawal of settlements that will not bring peace by spinning the President''s words, and ridiculing Abbas'' approach to the United Nations General Assembly, he might save a number of Israeli lives, and along the way save what is likely to be several times the number of Palestinian lives.