Jun 2, 2009 12:20 pm


There can be nothing more dangerous to Israel and onerous to the US than a compliant Israel for it invites endless pressure on the US. Indeed, it makes the US responsible for each and every Israeli action. This has been true in the past and it is true at the present. Hence, the greatest help Netanyahu can give Obama is to continue to say no.

The issue is not the so called"settlements." Netanyahu is not building them. He is merely refusing to prohibit additional building in existing ones. In any case, the issue is Iran. The possibility of an Israeli military attack on it's nuclear facilities is the only real card Barack Obama has when he attempts to convince the Iranians to come to the negotiating table. The more independent and defiant Netanyahu seems to be, the stronger that card gets.

It seems Netanyahu understands as much. Note the undiplomatic mode of defiance:

Netanyahu, who spoke at a meeting of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said a call by the U.S. to stop all so-called natural growth in existing settlements was unreasonable, according to someone who was present at the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity because the session was held behind closed doors. . . .

“It’s a conscious decision by the Netanyahu government to defy a request by the Obama administration,” Alpher said. “The ball is now in Obama’s court.”

Netanyahu told the committee that Israel wouldn’t freeze life in West Bank settlements, said the person who was at the meeting. The prime minister said Israel wouldn’t build any new settlements and would remove unauthorized West Bank outposts.

I hope Netanyahu explained it all to Obama. If so, the current public"fight" between the two men is the right prelude to Obama's outreach speech. Either way, I hope, for all our sakes, Netanyahu has the nerve to continue to say NO and mean it. It is our only hope for a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation at Princeton university with an Iranian nuclear physicist. (Yes, American universities continue to open their door to Iranian nuclear physicists. Don't ask me why. Perhaps it has something to do with the Iranian American lobby) He argued that Iran had the right to possess nuclear weapons.

I said that given Iranian anti-Israeli pronouncements asking Israel to live with a nuclear Iran is tantamount to asking it to live with a knife at it's throat.

No, he retorted, only with a knife in Iran's pocket.

Nothing would convince Iran more that it is safe to take it out of it's pocket than a weak and compliant Israeli prime minister. So, please, Netanyahu, continue to say NO!

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