Is Netanyahu Sidestepping Lieberman?

When the far right Avigdor Lieberman was tapped to serve as Israel's Foreign Minister in a parliamentary coalition led by Bibi Netanyahu, the Foreign Policy blog commented that "Israel's international standing is going to take a major nosedive," and the progressive J Street simply said "Oy." But could Netanyahu be sidestepping his officially designated Foreign Minister? Reading today's Washington Post it certainly seems like it.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak began a round of meetings with top U.S. officials yesterday in a bid to head off an increasingly sharp dispute between the United States and Israel over the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory.

Israeli officials have been stunned by the demands of top Obama administration officials that Israel halt settlement growth throughout the West Bank, and Barak was said to be carrying compromise proposals focusing mainly on dismantling unauthorized settlement outposts. He met in New York yesterday with special envoy George S. Mitchell, and will meet with Vice President Biden, national security adviser James L. Jones and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in the coming days.

This is a key time in Israel's relationship with the United States. Just two weeks have passed since Netanyahu visited the United States for contentious top level meetings at the White House. The President is indicating that he will play a significantly more active role in trying to secure peace in the Middle East than his predecessor, even if it means prodding Israel to make some tough decisions.

Who does Netanyahu send to America at this time? Not his Foreign Minister, who is viewed unfavorably by many outside of his country, but rather his Defense Minister, who had a very close relationship with the United States and the Clinton Administration, in particular, during his tenure as Prime Minister a decade ago.

Perhaps this is reading too much into these meetings. Then again, maybe Netanyahu has learned at least some lessons from his first failed stint as Prime Minister, when his poor relations with the United States led to the demise of his coalition, and has opted to put forward Israel's best face towards America rather than the face he needed to officially designate in order to form his governing coalition.

Tags: Avigdor Lieberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Israel (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

Re: Is Netanyahu Sidestepping Lieberman?

Barak comes to the US dirty by the Gaza invasion and the terrible loss of civilian life especially children, but apparently he is one up on the racist, Lieberman. But if all Barak has got is some more promises to dismantle 22 temporary hilltop outposts, while arguing for "natural growth" expansion, he is wasting his time. Hillary Clinton recently put the message to Netanyahu clear and simple: no settlement expansion, natural or otherwise, whatsoever.

In short, the games are over. Since his last stint as prime minster, Netanyahu has spant a lot of time courting religious extremists, in Israel but especially here in the US in the form of the Christian Zionists. But that was part of the plan concocted in the 1996 A Clean Break document. So now Netanyahu is so deep in religious fanatics, that he dare not stop the God determined colonization by halting the expansion of Israeli only cities and towns in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, where house demolitions continue, also in contravention of Hillary's request to stop them.

The only solution: the government must fall, even though there is not much there to take its place. Netanyahu's ouster does not change the right wing Knesset.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Netanyahu Sidestepping Lieberman?

Indeed, and Lieberman is not going to be ousted himself. He won't be the head of government, but his base is too fervent to topple.

I think it really does speak volumes about our relationship with Israel when the entirely reasonable attempt to stop further conquest and occupation of Palestinian lands is treated as something stunning and impossible etc.

by MNPundit 2009-06-02 07:13AM | 0 recs
It's working

Democrats And Republicans pressure Barack Obama on Israel

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/060 9/23207.html

by Destiny 2009-06-02 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: It's working

We all heard news analysis indicating that the COngress was becoming aloof of AIPAC control, and that Obama's agenda for the Middle East was gaining support from the Congress. But who would expect everyone to be aboard? Is this congreswoman an outlier or does she represent the AIPAC of old?

As President Barack Obama prepares to depart for his first trip to the Arab world, the administration's escalating pressure on Israel to freeze all growth of its settlements on Palestinian land has begun to stir concern among Israel's numerous allies in both parties on Capitol Hill.

"My concern is that we are applying pressure to the wrong party in this dispute," said Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.). "I think it would serve America's interest better if we were pressuring the Iranians to eliminate the potential of a nuclear threat from Iran, and less time pressuring our allies and the only democracy in the Middle East to stop the natural growth of their settlements."

"When Congress gets back into session the administration is going to hear from many more members than just me," she said.

"going to hear from many more members than just me"? Just you? And why haven't we heard from them before now?

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Netanyahu Sidestepping Lieberman?

I'm in shock that Obama has been so out front on this. He is showing a level of courage that has been absent for years in US politicians. The discourse on Israel is so twisted and controlled by the Israeli extreme right that it's been taken as a fact that establishing apartheid colonial outposts outside it's borders and supporting the religious fanatics that murdered an Israeli Prime Minister somehow was good for Israeli and US security.

Not only am I in shock but evidently Bibi is even more shocked then I that Obama and the congress didn't kiss his ass and give him a pass to do whatever he pleased. We are finally seeing some push back but so far it's pretty weak. Netanyahu won't let a rabid extremist like Lieberman anywhere near the US under these circumstances.

by hankg 2009-06-02 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Netanyahu Sidestepping Lieberman?

Israel's plan is not to arrive at a formal disposition for the Palestinians, but to delay any disposition, and make vague promises while systematically undermining Palestinian sovereignty.

The first Bush got very publicly frustrated with Shamir, I remember, and Shamir admitted after his term as prime minister ended that he was playing lip service to  American demands while massively increasing West Bank colonization.  

Clinton at least had Rabin to work with for part of the time, and there was a glimmering hope for peace then.

The last Bush was everything right wing Israelis wanted in a US president, who played lip service to a two state solution, but was placated by every superficial promise made, and let Israel manifest the worst of its aggression with tacit approval.  

Obama's stance here does not strike me as courageous, just logical.  I am hoping that the end result will be that the US stops obstructing international diplomacy, which can prod Israel to accept that it will need to begin working on a actual plan for disposition, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.  When it comes, however, it can be powerful.  When the US finally decided to stop protecting South African apartheid, Mandela was president in a few short years.  

And for the record, Netanyahu is just as a much of a rabid extremist as Lieberman.  I remember seeing a CNN interview with him after Rabin's assassination and he explained to Wolf Blitzer in very clear terms how a Palestinian state was incompatible with an Israeli state, and he would never accept it.  

by Winston Smith 2009-06-02 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Netanyahu Sidestepping Lieberman?

Sometimes 'just logical' is courageous.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-02 02:02PM | 0 recs

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