The American/Israeli Relationship: Bibi Plays Barack

27 May 2009

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The Associated Press reports that Israel's "Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday (24 May 2009) ruled out a return to Israel's 1967 borders, as its largely right-wing cabinet rebuffed calls to remove Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land."

Meanwhile in the clip above, Pepe Escobar comments on a televised meeting between Israeli Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu and United States (US) President Barack Obama, which took place on 18 May 2009, during the Israeli PM's recent visit to the US.

According to Escobar, Obama wants a Palestinian state as a precondition to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict and he wants it during his first term at the White House. In the meeting with Netanyahu, Obama said, if any progress is to be made, settlements have to be stopped.

Netanyahu on the other hand spoke about an "arrangement" for co-existence with Palestinians. Escobar interprets this "arrangement" to mean that settlement expansion will continue. He contends further that Netanyahu will maintain Israel's natural growth of settlements and that the Israeli PM will not share East Jerusalem with the Palestinians, despite the fact that it is part of Palestine. 

If negotiations are resumed with the Palestinians, Netanyahu wants them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu also said that Israel wanted the Palestinians to govern themselves, "absent a handful of powers." 

Escobar argues that the Likud party does not need Palestinians. Its agenda is to grab Palestinian land and Palestinian resources.

According to Escobar, Netanyahu's position on resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is first to deal with the "existential threat" posed by Iran's nuclear programme. He argues that the threat of Iran's nuclear capabilities was brought up in the meeting by Netanyahu as a red herring to deflect America's attention away from the crucial issues that would resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Escobar says that Netanyahu is ratcheting up the drumbeat for a war with Iran because he is terrified that Iran will engage in serious negotiations. In this case, Iran will assist on the Middle East as a nuclear weapon free zone. This would mean that Israel would have to reveal the fact that it is a nuclear power -- something that has been kept under wraps for the last four years.

According to American intelligence reports, Iran is not developing weapons grade uranium. Iran has also signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Israel has not.

But Netanyahu wants to bomb Iran and its nuclear plants and he could very well get his way, because a war with Iran, is also still not off the table for Obama, who is willing to engage in some limited dialogue with the Iranians, but is also enacting legislation, with the encouragement of the Israel lobby, to institute sanctions against Iran, as well as penalize European companies that do business with Iran.

Escobar says the bottom line on the Arab/Israeli conflict is:

- Obama wants a peace deal with Palestine, Netanyahu does not.

- Obama is willing to talk to Iran, Netanyahu is not.

Nevertheless, according to Escobar, the signs are ominous that Obama is being played by Netanyahu and the Israel lobby, who are virtually mapping America's road to war with Iran.

Editors Note: You may also be interested in Uri Avnery's analysis, "Netanyahu Goes to Washington," which is more generous in its assessment of Obama. 

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