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Pyrrhic Victory

Netanyahu at UN Photo: AFP
Netanyahu at UN Photo: AFP
 
 

Bibi won, Israel lost

Op-ed: Netanyahu defeated Obama, prompting America to give up its lead role in peace process

Orly Azoulay
Published: 09.25.11, 11:05 / Israel Opinion

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won: He proved that on the American court, in an election year, political trickery and provoking the Jewish street in the US can make a president capitulate.

 

In his speech at the United Nations, President Barack Obama wholly adopted the Israeli narrative and erased the Palestinian people’s hope. Netanyahu, even if he did not intend to do so, proved that the US can no longer serve as an honest broker in the Middle East; at least not during Obama’s current term in office.

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However, Netanyahu’s win is Pyrrhic victory, because the moment Obama gave up the Quartet was drawn into the vacuum: The Quartet is the one that urged the sides to launch negotiations, it is the one that will have progress presented to it, and it is the one that invited the parties to a festive conference in Moscow.

 

The lead role shifted to the Quartet’s hands. The US is there, yet not as the leader of the process, but rather, as one partner out of four.

 

Obama divorced the Middle East, and until November at least we shall not see him acting aggressively in a bid to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, which he pledged to do upon entering the White House. The president is frustrated by and tired of the Mideastern bazaar forced upon him. He finalized the divorce in his General Assembly speech, using pretty words that are empty of all substance to blur the sense of revulsion.

 

From now on, the rules of the game shall change: No longer will only the White House speak out; now, the Kremlin shall speak out as well. Even before the ink dried on the Quartet’s declaration, it turned out that Russia rejected the possibility of the document including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Medvedev’s and Putin’s agenda is different; so are their interests.

 

US lead good for Israel

At the beginning of the road, Obama positioned himself as an honest broker: He vowed to ensure Israel’s security but was also attentive to the Palestinians. With all the criticism leveled at Barack Hussein Obama in Jerusalem, he was better for Israel. Netanyahu disqualified America as an honest broker the moment he forced the president to give up too much.

 

Through the years of the peace process, the State of Israel preferred to see the US leading it. Indeed, it was always better for Israel to have the Americans as judge, mediator, compensator and the party that prepares its lawns for ceremonies.

 

Even when the American power is sinking, it is still the one that provides Israel with bunker-busting bombs and rejects condemnations of Israel. Hence, it is for Israel’s benefit to see America as the mediator. Yet this is over.

 

Should Obama be elected for a second term in office, and the chances of it aren’t bad, he shall never let Netanyahu to forget how he forced the baton to be handed over to Russia. Netanyahu won, and we are on our way to the cold.

 

 

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