On Europe trip, Obama to argue against a vote for a Palestinian state
Obama calls the statehood plan a misguided effort to isolate Israel. One factor Europeans might take into account at the time of a UN vote is whether the moribund peace process shows any life.
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No one expects the declaration to have trouble reaching a majority in the UN General Assembly, given the large number of developing and Islamic countries favorable to the Palestinians. But what the Obama administration wants to head off is a “yes” vote with the added heft of sizable Western support – a vote that would isolate both Israel and the US.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Obama visits Ireland
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But the real key to where a lifeless peace process goes from here, Dr. Cohen says – and equally important, he adds, to what becomes of US-Israel relations – is the Israeli political system.
“The ball is now in the court of the Israeli political system,” he says. It’s up to Israel’s political forces to “decide whether [they] will accept [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu being in this confrontational state with the US for the rest of Obama’s first term,” he says.
After Mr. Netanyahu chose to go public at the White House Friday with his rejection of Obama’s proposal for restarting peace talks, only the Israeli political class can pressure Netanyahu to pull back from “the brink,” says Cohen, who has advised several administrations on Middle East policy and travels frequently to the region.
In a speech on the Middle East last Thursday, Obama said talks should restart on territory and security issues, with Israel’s pre-1967 borders, modified for anticipated land swaps, to serve as the basis for negotiating an Israel-Palestine border. When Netanyahu rejected the proposal Friday, he focused on the reasons that peace talks cannot proceed now – including the recent reconciliation accord between the Palestinians’ Fatah and Hamas organizations.
With Netanyahu scheduled to speak to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, the question now is whether Netanyahu chooses to play down or underscore his differences with Obama, several analysts say.
“It was pretty clear from what we heard that he [Netanyahu] doesn’t have the blessing of AIPAC to turn this into a bigger controversy than it already is,” he says. “They don’t want him to turn the gap into a chasm.”