PM Netanyahu sitting with US President Obama 311.
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO)
There’s a feeling of instability in the atmosphere, of built-up pressure hanging
motionless. The air is hazy, the sky is pale and miasmic. Earthquake weather,
it’s called. That’s the atmosphere in this country, geopolitically
And while no one can predict an earthquake, I don’t know of any
aware, realistic person who would predict that the relative calm we’ve known for
nearly three years, since Operation Cast Lead, is going to last very much
longer. A few months, maybe a year. More than that is hard to imagine.
one’s minding the store anymore, the store being the world. America is way
overextended, militarily and economically; it no longer has the capability or
will to keep a lid on events in distant places. For Americans, the economy is
the only issue, for Obama it’s the economy and the Republicans and getting
reelected. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is off his agenda; he can’t solve
it, he can’t even begin to solve it, all he can do is hurt himself by getting
involved. With a failing economy, an image of weakness and a reelection
campaign to deal with, this president of the United States has bid us and our
problems goodbye and good luck.
America’s second-in-command in the
Western world, Europe, has ducked out, too, because of its economic emergency
and because Israel/Palestine is America’s turf; if America has a do-nothing
policy, Europe does, too.
Which brings us to September 20 at the UN,
where the Palestinians will be seeking recognition of their would-be
state-in-the-making from the General Assembly. At the start of this summer,
mention of “September” brought a feeling of dread to Israel and of looming
triumph to the Palestinians. Now, as the summer’s ending, it seems that much of
the air has gone out of September. The Palestinians will win their declarative
recognition from the General Assembly, they’ll get their 120-odd votes,
including a few from Europe, but then what? What they’re looking for is
momentum, for Europe to join the Third World in backing their campaign for
statehood, to embarrass the US out of saving Israel again – but Europe is
otherwise engaged, with its sinking economy. Palestine will have to
If September turns out to be a bust, and I think it will, Binyamin
Netanyahu and most Israelis will be smiling. But for how long? After the
Palestinian Authority has been cooperating with Israel for four years in
shutting down terror, shutting down Hamas, even shutting down anti-Israeli
demonstrations, what will the mood in the West Bank and Gaza be if they are shut
out by Israel and the West after September 20?
Again, no one can predict an
earthquake, but does anyone want to predict that it will be business as usual in
the West Bank, that the quiet there will continue? Anybody figure that tensions
with Gaza will reach no higher, that the sort of terror attack that killed eight
Israelis near Eilat last week, and the days of bombing in Gaza and the Negev
that followed, will remain the exception? If things go bad, who’s going to step
in to fix them? Barack Obama? Catherine Ashton? Hosni Mubarak? What will happen
between us and this new Egypt if we go at it with the Palestinians? What will
happen between Sinai and Gaza?
If things with the Palestinians deteriorate, I
don’t see any stabilizing force from the Egyptian side of the border anymore,
only a destabilizing force.
Put this all together – a vacuum in world
leadership, a failed Palestinian initiative at the UN next month, and a
bristling, defiant new Egypt. Now add in the last ingredient: Israel at its most
rigid, a country desperate to hold onto a status quo that’s coming apart,
unwilling to change, out of ideas.
What do you get? Quiet? Stability?
Business as usual?
Looks like earthquake weather to me. If we make it through
another year with the ground still intact, I’d call that luck.An important note to readers
Due to professional disagreements with Larry Derfner connected to his
personal blog, he will no longer be working at The Jerusalem Post.