Moshe Dann: Israel Won’t Be Bullied by Obama, But Bibi’s Tactic Could Fail as Well

Roundup: Historians' Take

[The author, a former assistant professor of history, is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.]

Harsh condemnations of Israel for building in areas of Jerusalem acquired after the Six Day War in 1967 have backfired. If President Obama thought that he would move negotiations ahead and force Israel to make more concessions, he caused the exact opposite situation. Israelis have united in support of Prime Minister Netanyahu, while Arab Palestinian leaders have, on cue, stepped back....

The premise of Obama’s demand that Israel stop all construction in all areas conquered by Israel in 1967 is logical: if Israel has violated international law by “illegally occupying Palestinian land,” then there are no differences between one area and another. But PM Netanyahu distinguishes between Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria, hinting that he’s open to more withdrawals.

In the short run, Netanyahu may think he can save Jerusalem by giving up all or part of Judea and Samaria; in the long run, however, it spells disaster. The same deal which previous governments offered — under Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert — were overwhelmingly rejected by Israeli voters and Arab leaders and are proven catastrophes. Giving territory to a terror-based Palestinian entity which refuses even to acknowledge Jewish historical claims and admit that Israel has a right to exist is senseless.

Jewish reverence for Jerusalem is a special case because the city is the spiritual center of the Jewish people, but Jews have no less affection for, and identify with, hundreds of historic places throughout Judea and Samaria. The land of Israel isn’t some historic amusement park of sentimentality, or a romantic Hollywood of memories. It is at the core of Jewish consciousness....

Obama has set the rules of the game: if settlements are wrong because they are built on conquered land, then Jerusalem does not belong to Jews. And by those criteria, nothing does.

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