Words and Deeds

Relations between the USA and Israel haven’t been the best for quite some time now. After Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory — a surprise for many — they have sunk to a new low. The reason: Netanyahu’s public declaration that a Palestinian state would never be created during his administration. True, he made that declaration after he had won the election, but according to press reports President Obama is now considering a radical departure from business as usual in his policies toward Israel.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper warns Netanyahu against underestimating the American president: “Netanyahu won a brilliant victory due probably to his hard rhetoric regarding the Palestinians, but Obama will be in office for another 22 months and will single-mindedly pursue a nuclear agreement with Tehran which he describes as a ‘historic opportunity.’” In other words, even if Netanyahu is tempted to play for time by involving the U.S. Congress, it would be politically unwise to pressure the man in the Oval Office to the point where he changes his tune toward Israel entirely.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel also reacted highly skeptically over Netanyahu’s position saying, “What should Obama do? Pout? Threaten?” Neither one, because that sort of a response would be unprofessional. Although Obama is already engaging in one: He has already threatened to rethink America’s relations with Israel if Netanyahu refuses to back down. What might that mean? If Israel is condemned by the U.N. Security Council for continuing to build new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, the United States may not use its veto against the condemnation because Israel would be lessening chances for a Middle East peace. Such a move would isolate Israel even more dramatically.

A commentator in the Aachener Nachrichten doesn’t believe Netanyahu’s assertion that he could eventually envision a two-state solution at some future date. “All his talk is nothing but smoke and mirrors. What Netanyahu says means nothing; what he does is what counts. During his tenure the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has risen dramatically to currently more than a half million. That’s a clear violation of international law. The Palestinians have less and less space.”

The Aachener Nachrichten is especially critical of Netanyahu personally: “His racist attacks against Arab-Israelis during the campaign revealed the inner man. To believe anything he promises would not only be foolish, it would be downright negligent.”

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