Could Bibi Netanyahu and
Barack Obama share the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize? This is how New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman opened his latest column on Wednesday.
Friedman admits that the thought "sounds ludicrous" and that as well as disliking each other" the two also have "radically different world view", but asserts that the next six months of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and on Israel-Palestinian peace may well provide the two an opportunity to "remake the Middle East for the better."
"If these two leaders were to approach these two negotiations with a reasonably shared vision (and push each other), they could play a huge role in remaking the Middle East for the better, and — with John Kerry — deserve the Nobel Prize, an Emmy, an Oscar and the Pritzker Architecture Prize," Friedman wrote.
Discussing the Iran
talks, Friedman asserts that "you need some Obama 'cool' to finalize a deal with Iran, but also some Bibi crazy — some of his Dr. Strangelove stuff and the occasional missile test."
"The dark core of this Iranian regime has not gone away… Anyone who has seen the handy work of Iran and Hezbollah
firsthand — the US Embassy and Marine bombings in Beirut, the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Lebanon,
the bombing at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires — knows that the Iranians will go all the way. "
"So let Bibi be Bibi (up to the point where a good deal becomes possible) and Barack be Barack and we have the best chance of getting a decent outcome. "
Friedman acknowledges that Netanyahu's efforts on Iran got Iran to the negotiating table, adding that Obama will be the one to "get a deal."
"Netanyahu’s job is to make himself as annoying as possible to Obama to ensure that sanctions are only fully removed in return for a verifiable end to Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities."
Conversely, "On the Israeli-Palestinian front, Obama’s job is to make himself as annoying as possible to Netanyahu. Each has to press the other for us to get the best deals on both fronts."
Friedman admits he has no illusions "that all the problems can be tied up with a nice bow. But with a little imagination and the right mix of toughness and openness on, Bibi and Obama could turn their bitter-lemon relationship into lemonade."
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