It is shameful to see the United States grovelling before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extreme right-wing coalition government. The US government is Israel's biggest political and financial benefactor and yet it is now offering Netanyahu additional tempting sweeteners to get a resumption of the freeze on illegal settlement activity across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
President Barack Obama, who impressed millions of Muslims around the world when he made the end of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories the main thrust of his country's foreign policy, is now reduced to pleading with Netanyahu to extend the freeze for just two months. The inducements include a pledge to frustrate any Arab attempt to put recognition of a Palestinian state on the UN agenda as well as additional sophisticated weaponry. The details were discussed in the Hebrew media this week.
It is understandable that America wants to push for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians within two months, but how will it come about when the US is seen to be so weak? In any case, experience shows that Israel has been evasive about peace for decades; does nobody learn from this?
At the heart of this latest effort is the need to placate the Israel lobby in the United States with what amounts to a bribe for the Jewish vote in the November mid-term elections. Most opinion polls suggest a dip in support for the President's Democrat Party.
However, the latest situation cannot be blamed solely on the US President. Arab regimes across the Middle East are now without value or influence in the negotiating process, regionally or internationally. When Mr. Obama says that he can prevent these governments from approaching the UN Security Council to demand the establishment of an independent Palestinian state – something that was promised by the President himself – he is acknowledging that the Arab states operate on remote control awaiting his instructions.
Thus, the US administration is susceptible to Israel lobby blackmail because he does not have to face a strong Arab bloc defending the Palestinians' position. The Arabs don't even complain about US submissiveness to Israeli demands.
This is indeed unfortunate; the Arab countries have combined annual oil revenues of more than $500 billion, huge markets and control of two-thirds of the world's energy resources and reserves, but they cannot use that leverage on the world stage. They couldn't challenge Israel's nuclear capabilities as an international issue, nor will they be able to do anything to help the Palestinians; nobody takes them seriously because they know that the Arabs' wealth and oil is controlled by Western companies backed by the threat of military force.
Benjamin Netanyahu may well accept the latest US offer and freeze settlement activity for another two months. If he does, it will not be in the interest of peaceful negotiations, but in order to squeeze yet more advanced weapons and political compromises out of Washington. Who knows, he may even push for the Arab regimes to declare publicly what is already known behind closed doors – that they have near normal relations with the state of Israel, and have had for years.
Source: Al-Quds Opinion