Jun 15, 2011

Israel vs. the Bullies

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

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It appears that President Barack Obama did not mean what he said in his speech at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on May 22. That is, he didn't mean any of the things he said on Israel's behalf. In that speech, for instance, Obama had declared that Israel could not be expected to negotiate with Hamas until Hamas decided to give up its goal to destroy Israel.

Basic things.

Now, the White House is pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go to the bargaining table with Israel's enemies, as they are, to keep the UN from declaring a Palestinian state in the fall. And yes, Obama still wants Netanyahu to agree to use the 1967 borders as a starting point.

Obama's proposal in his May 19th speech had suggested that Israel and a Palestinian state should exist side by side based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. The issues of Jerusalem and refugees were not the immediate concern and would be addressed later.

The Palestinians have agreed to return to the peace table on the basis of Obama's proposal, according to Palestinian envoy Saeb Erekat. And why not? The US moved a lot of negotiation ground in their favor.

Netanyahu, though, flatly rejected the idea that Israel should accept the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations, and the Obama administration and much of Europe have been miffed ever since.

According to an inside Israeli source, the US is frustrated with Netanyahu's stand. On Friday, The US National Security Council's Middle East head, Steve Simon, told American Jewish leaders that the US expected a reply from Netanyahu in one month regarding the Obama Administration's proposal to restart talks. One European diplomat sided with the US saying, "We want to hear Netanyahu say he's willing to negotiate on the basis of Obama's speech and that he'll discuss borders based on the 1967 lines with land swaps."

The whole thing is ridiculous. The Palestinians are in no position to start talks. Fatah is still in a unity government with Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist group that would like nothing better than to beat Israel to death with a fiery cosmic cricket bat. After Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, the Quartet (the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN) gave Hamas three conditions to be allowed to be a part of the game; recognizing Israel, renouncing terrorism and accepting past peace accords. Hamas has done none of the above, and Israel therefore has no reasonable negotiating partner. With whom do Steve Simon and these European diplomats expect Israel to drink tea and chat?

According to Obama's own words less than a month ago, Israel should not be expected to enter into peace talks right now. Obama told AIPAC on May 22 that Israel could not be expected to negotiate with Hamas if Hamas did not even recognize Israel's right to exist. In his speech, Obama said, "We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel's right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements."

Hamas has not improved in the past three weeks, and now Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah have turned their backs on the Oslo Accords. In a sudden reverse, the Obama Administration appears to be pressuring Israel to sit down with people who won't stick to past agreements and don't recognize Israel's right to exist. The President is in fact handing the Palestinians a huge gift by making the 1967 borders the beginning ground for negotiations on the weak argument that it's necessary in order to stop the UN from declaring a Palestinian state this fall.

Did the United States lose veto power in the UN? Did we miss that somehow?

Jennifer Rubin quoted a GOP advisor in The Washington Post as saying, "If the administration really wanted to, it could pressure the Quartet to formally oppose the Palestinians' unilateral move at the U.N. and nip the whole issue in the bud in a long weekend. Clearly, they would rather use this situation to box Prime Minister Netanyahu into a false choice between unilateral statehood and '67 borders. The Congress will reject this false choice and so should the PM."

In the meanwhile, Netanyahu recently returned from a visit to Rome, where Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi had already agreed to stand with Israel against any UN resolution to create a Palestinian state by fiat. At a news conference, Netanyahu spoke directly to the real issue - the UN resolution. He pointed out that such a move by the UN would be counterproductive.

"First, it would violate the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel but it would also harden the Palestinian position because if the UN General Assembly adopts the Palestinian positions in advance of negotiations why should they negotiate?" Netanyahu said.

"Peace will only come from negotiations. It will be a negotiated peace. It cannot be imposed from the outside, not by any power and certainly not by one-sided UN resolutions," he said.

Netanyahu's office said it was "unaware of any American pressure or ultimatum."

The US and Europe may be miffed, but Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing a good job of standing his ground. He has some bullies to stand up to, and he needs to continue to do so solidly and wisely. We pray that the God of Israel will continue to protect him and direct him and give him true wisdom. We pray the Holy Spirit will give the leaders of Israel direction and guidance as they navigate the dirty waters of international politics.

Related Links

Abbas to meet U.S. peace envoy in Amman - Xinhua
European Parliament supports Obama Mideast peace vision: president - Monsters and Critics
US, EU officials in Israel work to stop Palestinian UN move - Jerusalem Post
Last preparations before restart of Israel-Palestinian talks - DEBKAfile
Fatah, Hamas to Announce New Government - Christian Broadcasting Network