Friday, February 13, 2009


Israeli Election results Bad for Peace Process Prospects

My reading of international affairs, for what it's worth, over the last couple of decades is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been central. Unremarkable, you might say, but many would wish to dispute this especially pro-Zionists. But the result of the recent elections in Israel have not gladdened the hearts of those hoping Obama's victory might see a renewal of the peace process as Ewen McAskill reported yesterday:

Inside the Obama administration there are officials who in private say how appalled they were by Israel's actions in Gaza, both in terms of the death toll and the impact on the Middle East. Open discussion about the alliance with Israel is difficult in the US. US officials, analysts and academics who question whether the national interest might be better served by loosening links quickly find themselves in the middle of huge squabbles and accusations of antisemitism.

Obama's official line is that Israel's security is still a primary US interest but some advisers might be beginning to revise this position. The new president has a wide and vital foreign policy issues in the southern Middle East: Iraq and Iran as well as Israel, not to mention Aghanistan/Pakistan which abuts this troubled zone. One commentator, Glen Greenwald, has raised a small flag of protest against the assumption that Israeli objectives must be as automatically defended as they were under Bush jnr:

"There's no question that the blind, uncritical support the US has lent Israeli actions has harmed America's standing in the world generally, and in the Muslim world particularly ... For little benefit and much harm to ourselves, we have made Israel's numerous enemies, conflicts and wars our own."

Well said. As the Guardian editorial points out, Iran is a crucial question. Israel will be enraged by Obama's commitment to talk to the Iranians and might even be tempted to act unilaterally by bombing Iranian nuclear research installations; that would scupper hopes for peace for many a year. Seems to me Obama should disengage from the hitherto overwhelmingly persuasive pro-Israel lobby, disengage from the likes of Natanyahu and give a higher priority to urging the two state solution plus sorting out the rest of the Middle and Near east.

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