Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Obama-Netanyahu $3 Billion Deal

What the hell is President Barack Obama thinking? Yes, it is very important that Israel freeze construction in West Bank settlements, but Obama's way of getting this done is just foolish. His administration offered Israel a package worth $3 billion, which includes 20 state of the art fighter jets in exchange for an additional 3-month freeze. Why just three months? Because during this time, according to Obama's expectations, Israel and the Palestinians will reach an agreement about final borders, which would mean that it would be clear where Israel can build and where it can't.

Has Obama not seen how negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have gone over the last decade or two? Has he not seen that Netanyahu (and Abbas, to some extent) isn't very serious about moving forward? It will be a surprise if, at the end of three months, any progress will be made at all, let alone an agreement on borders. So, if the situation won't be as rose-colored as Obama expects, when settlement construction resumes a new crisis will arise. More accurately, the current crisis will be resumed after some postponement.

My main problem here isn't just the fact that the freeze is too short, but that the price the United States is paying for it is too high, especially at a time of a recession and when the US is dealing with a huge federal deficit. Sure, $3B is tiny compared to the deficit's hundreds of trillions of dollars, but still, spending such an amount just for a temporary solution that probably isn't going to bring results?

In effect, Obama is rewarding Netanyahu for being stubborn, instead of actually rewarding him for achieving real milestones. It's kind of like his own Nobel Prize in 2009 - awarded for nothing but false hope. This is moronic and sophmoric, and is just one little part of President Obama's horrible foreign policy.


  1. I heard about the ‘deal made in hell’ from Press TV but only found time to delve into the subject yesterday. I was overwhelmed by it but somewhat ‘underwhelmed’ by your reaction. Victoria Tilley isn’t entirely on the button as to the exact nature of the deal but otherwise is spot on, IMHO:

    Also this piece in Ha’aretz is very interesting: Bibi’s horse trading and what it could mean for the ‘peace’ process:

    Later I heard that under Obama The Drone Messiah, the US will renovate its nuclear arsenal. Is he intent on breaking every promise, down to the very last one? Has he gone bonkers, lost conkers, gone kaput? Does he have the ‘Mark of the Beast’ on the back of his head (‘For Obama dial 666!’)?

  2. Surprisingly, I generally agree with Virginia Tilley that this is absolutely ruinous to US foreign policy. I totally disagree with her about the part where she basically says a freeze is impossile because a true two-state solution is impossible and Israel has been planning to annex the West Bank for decades (true of the late 60's, 70's and 80's, but not true in recent years).

    I also agree with Dan Kurtzer's analysis of the deal.

  3. ”and Israel has been planning to annex the West Bank for decades (true of the late 60's, 70's and 80's, but not true in recent years).

    Why, what’s changed? Now you have more calls for unimpeded settlement growth, including a party that seems capable of holding Likud to ransom and a PM who seems unable/unwilling to try and stop that. Annexation may not even be the biggest problem: creating an irreversible situation of the ground that turns Palestinian territory into a honeycomb of settlements, settler-only roads etc may prove more damaging to any peace prospects…

    Will there be this recently announced referendum do you think?

  4. Maybe I should have said that the plans for annexation aren't true of all the years since 1992 in which Netanyahu wasn't PM. But even now, most parties are aware of the need to let go of the West Bank, and the next election just might bring a government that would implement this. The settlements are a huge and growing problem, but I don't believe they are irreversible. Not yet, anyway.

    The referendum law is an odd one. It says that there will be a referendum if 61 MKs (out of 120) approve a peace agreement, and if 80 MKs approve, there will be no need for a referendum. However, the referendum law itself is just a regular law, not a Basic Law (the closest thing we have to a constitution), which means that a law to repeal the referendum law can pass with a simple majority, even a plurality. So basically, if you have a peace treaty supported by 61 MKs, you'll probably have enough MKs to repeal the referendum requirement, although with Israel's crazy political system, MKs can vote in favor of a treaty hoping it would fail in a referendum, thus not supporting a repeal of the new law.

    In other words, I have no idea if a referendum would ever be held. You never know.

  5. I don’t seem to get email notifications any more, so my responses are patchy.

    A referendum will probably be held when those who will hold it will feel the answer will be what they want it to be. The same is true of many referenda around the world: new labour promised one on the Euro but didn’t hold it because they know they’d lose. Scottish SNP wants a referendum of Scottish independence (don’t ask!) but refrains from holding it (they too would lose).

    Hailed as some form of ‘direct democracy’ it really doesn’t usually pan out like that.