Thursday, December 11, 2008

Israel and Obama: one month after the election

It is now been over one month since Obama won the US election.

At the time, there was much relief throughout the world that the US, the largest and most powerful country in the world, had elected a progressive, rational leader as the head of state.

In Israel, however, there were deep concerns. Who was Obama? Would he alter US policy towards Israel and instead take a more even-handed approach? Would he alter the "special relationship" between Israel and the US.

In my last blog, I suggested that Obama could go along the old Clinton line - which I think would be god damn silly and put old players like Ross and Indyk in top positons in State or he could take a more daring and sensible approach - what I called the 'Judt option' and take a more aggresive and activist approach towards the conflict and appoint someone like Dan Kurtzer as an envoy.

At present, I understand from Magnes Zionist's blog, it looks like Dan K looks like being a special envoy to the M/E reporting to Obama, which is good news. The reappointment of Robert Gates as Sec. of Defence is also good news for the M/E. It has been largely the Pentagon's strong stance against military action against Iran, that have inhibited Israel from going alone.

The appointment of Hillary Clinton is a difficult choice. On the one hand, she is an extremely smart woman and would be intimately familiar with the details re: Israel/Palestine, with her husband Bill, having provided the best parameters of a final status deal ever put together by a US Administration - in the Clinton Parameters of December 2000. On the otherhand, as a senator from NY, she has had to become buddies and suck up to a lot of very right wing Jews - whether this has influenced her, I do not know.

The best appointment, however, has been that of General James Jones as a National Security Advisor. Jones has intimate "on the grounds" understanding of the Israel/Pal. conflict having spent a considerable time attempting to rehabilitate the destroyed PA Security Services and being successful to a degree. He is fully aware of the frustrations of Israeli bureaucracy in making the lives of average Palestinians hell and is aware of the narrow minded views of the Generals within the IDF who thought like all the envoys who had preceded him, would fail and leave Israel/Palestine with no achievements. The IDF has certainly has some success in that regard (much helped by Hamas it must be said). Who remembers General Dayton and his miserable reorganisation of PA police in Gaza or former world bank head James Wolfhenson failed attempt to negotiate freedom of movement in Gaza. James, in short, will see through the bullshit that every roadblock, every metre of the security fence is there for security -he will take a harsher line.

The US team is therefore so far impressive - although the details of the lower officials will be important. Remember - in the Bush administration - all Israel needed were the likes of neo-con. Elliot Abrams as the Near East Advisor to the Pres. and David Wurmswer - Cheney's VP M/E Advisor to cause mischief and avoid the US from applying serious pressure on Israel.

Whilst all this is going on at the US end, its not clear what will happen on Israel's end. The Likud now has a list, which is as extreme as ever, much to Netanyahu's dismay. Were Likud to win - Israel would be in a utter deadlock in regard to its relationship with the Palestinians - 'economic peace' - netanyahu's phrase re: the palestinians is a joke and should be seen as such.

It still not over for Livni to win - with around 2 months till the Israeli election - let's hope she can pull it off.


Blogger Ibrahimblogs said...

I like your blog. It is thorough and pertinent.

Keep it up!!

This is Ibrahim from Israeli Uncensored News

11:31 PM  

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