Ik durfde het niet te hopen, maar het begint er op te lijken dat president Obama opgewassen is tegen de rechtse regering van Israel en de machtige zionistische (Pro-Groot)’Israel lobby’ in eigen land. De eerste schermutselingen over ‘het vredesproces’ vinden plaats, waarbij Obama vasthoudt aan de twee-statenoplossing – die Netanyahu verwerpt. Daarnaast overweegt de regering-Obama met Hamas te gaan onderhandelen en laat hij zich niet meeslepen met Israel’s oorlog-ophitserij tegen Iran.
If the past week was any indication, the U.S.-Israeli relationship, which could scarcely have been smoother during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, appears headed for choppy waters.
Since taking office 10 days ago, the new government headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been slapped down at least, rhetorically by the two most senior members of the Barack Obama administration, including the president himself.
Other steps taken by the administration in the past week, particularly its vow to participate fully in multilateral talks with Iran on its nuclear programme "from now on", have bolstered the notion that Washington under Obama no longer sees eye to eye with the Jewish State, and especially its new right-wing leadership.
The latest developments come as the administration has given top priority to redressing the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, increasingly referred to as "AfPak", as part of an ambitious strategy whose ultimate goal is to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al Qaeda. Planning for the new strategy was overseen by Bruce Riedel, a former top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst on Middle and South Asia, who has long insisted that resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would go a long way toward reducing al Qaedas appeal throughout the region.
That appears to reflect the view of other key administration officials, including Obama himself who, despite the victory of Israeli parties opposed to a two-state solution and widespread scepticism that progress toward a peace accord is possible in the near term, has repeatedly stressed the urgency of that goal…
Asked by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer whether the Obama administration was concerned about Netanyahu’s threat, Vice President Joseph Biden, who appears to have emerged as one of Obama’s main foreign policy advisers, cast doubt on its credibility. "I don’t believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu would do that," said Biden, adding, "I think he would be ill-advised to do that."
Subsequent efforts both inside and outside the administration by individuals and lawmakers closely associated with the so-called "Israel Lobby" to persuade the White House to soften what appeared to be Biden’s categorical rejection of unilateral Israeli action were unavailing, according to several sources.
"I’ve been given no reason to believe that the vice president wasn’t speaking for the administration," said one government official who works on the Middle East and the Gulf but was not authorised to speak publicly on the matter. He noted that Biden’s former top staffer on the region when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Puneet Talwar, is now the senior director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf on the National Security Council (NSC)
. Indeed, it was Talwar, rather than the Secretary of State Hillary Clintons more hawkish "Special Adviser" on Iran, Dennis Ross, who accompanied Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns to London this week to co-ordinate strategy for negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear programme with their counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China (P5 + 1) as the administrations first major step toward full and direct engagement "on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest" with Iran, as promised by Obama.
"Obama is trying to demonstrate his sincerity (toward Tehran), and the last thing he wants is for Netanyahu to undermine his efforts by militarising the atmosphere," said Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and author of Treacherous Alliance, a history published in 2007 of the trilateral relationship between Iran, Israel, and the United States.
But Netanyahu has other reasons to be concerned. Europe increasingly favours softening the Quartets conditions for engaging Hamas, a notion that is anathema for Netanyahu but that is being given serious consideration by the Obama administration as part of what appears to be a major, if quiet, policy review. ..
However, these initial skirmishes may nonetheless presage a stormy period between the two allies, one that could be touched off in the short term if Israel decides to follow through on plans to demolish several dozen Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem or engages in new settlement activity, moves that the Obama administration has made clear it will strongly oppose.
A recent statement by the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, that Israel may decide to attack Iranian nuclear sites has been followed by indications of a debate within the Barack Obama administration on whether Israel’s repeated threats to carry out such a strike should be used to gain leverage in future negotiations with Tehran.