How Netanyahu can win in Washington
When Bibi Netanyahu sits down for dinner in the White House on Wednesday evening, he can be assured of one thing; he will not have a friend in the room.
In past peace negotiation efforts, Israeli leaders have been able to rely on U.S. administrations that displayed an understanding that a safe and secure Israel is in their best interests. However it is widely believed that President Obama does not fully share such sentiments, as reflected by recent polls among Israelis and American Jews.
There is no doubt that Netanyahu will be placed under tremendous pressure to make far-reaching and broad concessions and although he has stressed that the security of Israel is non-negotiable, there is no agreement that Abbas would accept, that doesn’t directly harm Israel’s security.
Of course Netanyahu knows this; let us remember that he had written his first book on the subject of international terrorism when Obama was still studying at Occidental College in California. He is also aware that his career and more importantly his legacy is on the line. He will recall the aftermath of his last sally into the world of ‘peace talks’ that produced the Hebron Accords and the Wye River Memorandum that directly resulted in his falling from grace among the Israeli public.
By all accounts Netanyahu is an incredibly smart man, and is alleged to have an IQ of 180 that is 20 points higher than the IQ of Albert Einstein. If not the strongest leader, he is a brilliant tactician and master strategist, specifically in the arena of diplomacy and political maneuvering. So how can Netanyahu use his tenacity to draw some positivity out of this predicament?
Firstly he should keep in mind that the party that stands to lose the most from the failure of this fantasy venture is President Obama. Whilst Netanyahu and Abbas, are supported by large constituencies that oppose the talks and both represent populations with absolutely minimal or non-existent expectations, Obama has already been awarded a Nobel Peace prize in anticipation of his peacemaking prowess. Additionally Obama has a pivotal election coming up and has so far received a resounding F grade from the American public on the subject of foreign policy and as such he will be super anxious to portray progress in the peace process.
Secondly; the biggest existential threat to Israel right now, is Iran, and while the eye of the world is focused on the Palestinian problem in Washington, the Ayatollahs are cultivating their nuclear nurseries. There is no doubt the Palestinian Arabs pose a real and serious danger to the future of Israel as a Jewish state and the issue must be addressed, but no other matter is more immediate and pressing for Israel that the runaway juggernaut of Iranian nuclear ambitions.
Considering all of the above, the Israeli negotiating team may find value in this trip for the Israeli public by keeping the Iran card on the top of their deck at all times. After all, how can they be expected to take any so called ‘risks for peace,’ when the biggest risk of all, namely Iran, is left all but unchecked. Surely the Obama administration will want to avoid this at all costs, but the logic of this argument is undeniable.
Additionally Netanyahu will have common ground on this matter with some other guests at the White House peace party, namely Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan who have much to lose by a seismic Middle East power shift and would like to see Iranian ambitions blunted expediently.
Although he hasn’t been vocal on the subject, Iran is clearly a problem for Abbas as well, as Ahmedinejad is a chief supporter of the Hamas regime that now rules Gaza, who are sworn political opponents to his Fatah party.
In a diplomatic world where everyone looks out for their own interests, this trip to Washington may yet prove to have a positive twist if Netanyahu and his team are successfully able to consistently tie the administrations demands to American support of military action in Iran, which now increasingly seems like the only option.
Bibi has what it takes to make the necessary maneuvers, but it will call for great courage and resolve to pull it off, he would therefore do well to keep in mind that the future of his people is at stake.
The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at [email protected]