Obama/Israël: Qu’ils mangent de la rhétorique ! (When all else fails, play tourist !)

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Hamas leader Dr. Salah Bardawil called on Palestinian political leaders in the Authority and the factions to review the Palestinian political program to face the repercussions of the remarks made by Obama on Thursday during his visit to Jerusalem and West Bank. Bardawil described in a press statement to Quds Press the U.S. President statements calling for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as « the most dangerous statement by an American president regarding the Palestinian issue. » He added that the recognition of the State of Israel means practically abolishing the right of refugees to return and tampering with the fate of the Palestinians from the 1948-occupied territories. « This shows that Obama has turned his back to all Arabs … This is serious and requires that the Palestinian leadership reformulates its political program to address this deception. » Al Qassam
Tranquillement, sans que personne ne l’annonce, le conflit israélo-palestinien est passé d’une nécessité à un passe-temps pour les diplomates américains. Comme n’importe quel passe-temps — construction de modèles réduits d’avions ou de chandails au tricot — certains jours vous travaillez dessus, certains jours, vous ne travaillez pas. Cela dépend de votre humeur, mais qu’importe finalement si le chandail est terminé ou non. Obama a travaillé sur ce passe-temps au début de son premier mandat. Il a vite été coincé lorsqu’il a été repoussé par les deux parties, et, par conséquent, il a adopté, tout à fait rationnellement, à mon avis, une attitude de négligence bénigne. Tout cela dans l’indifférence générale. (…) Le conflit le plus déstabilisateur de la région est la guerre civile entre chiites et sunnites qui chauffe, le Liban, la Syrie, l’Irak, le Koweït, le Bahreïn et le Yémen. Alors qu’il serait une bonne chose d’ériger un Etat palestinien en paix avec Israël, la question est aujourd’hui restera-t-il un État syrien, un Etat libyen et l’État égyptien. Enfin, alors que la nécessité pour l’Amérique de forger la paix israélo-palestinienne n’a jamais été plus faible, les obstacles n’ont jamais été plus élevés : Israël a maintenant installé 300 000 imlantations en Cisjordanie et les attaques à la roquette du Hamas sur Israël depuis Gaza ont sérieusement érodé l’appétit de la majorité silencieuse israélienne de se retirer de la Cisjordanie, puisqu’une seule petit roquette fusée tirée de là-bas pourrait fermer l’aéroport international israélien de Lod. Pour toutes ces raisons, Obama pourrait bien être le premier président américain à visiter Israël en touriste. Thomas Friedman
Keeping Iran from sprinting to a single bomb now so that it can amble toward 50 bombs once Mr. Obama is out of office is not a policy worthy of any American presidency. I’d also like to hear the president tell Palestinians during his visit to Bethlehem that what really stands between them and a state isn’t Israel or its settlements. Israel dismantled its settlements in Sinai for the sake of peace with Egypt, and dismantled them again in Gaza in the interests of disengaging from the restive coastal strip. Most Israelis would gladly do so again for the sake of a real peace with the Palestinians. But Israelis can have no confidence in such a peace so long as Palestinians elect Hamas to power, cheer the rocketing of Israeli cities, insist on a « right of return » to Tel Aviv and Haifa, play charades at the U.N., refuse to negotiate directly with Israel, and raise their children on a diet of anti-Semitic slurs. Bret Stephens
Pourquoi donc ce grand écart entre le verbe et les actes? En premier lieu à cause du Congrès. Sénateurs et représentants, démocrates comme républicains, sont extrêmement défavorables à des pressions sur Israël au moment où son voisinage s’islamise (Égypte), implose en guerre civile (Syrie) ou se nucléarise (Iran). En second lieu, Obama a d’autres dossiers brûlants à traiter – outre sa lutte interne avec les républicains sur les questions socio-économiques -, à commencer par la bombe iranienne, cauchemar non seulement d’Israël, mais aussi des alliés arabes sunnites pétrolifères de Washington (Arabie saoudite). Il doit aussi gérer les tensions montantes avec la Russie, la Chine, la Corée du Nord ou encore le Pakistan ; devant ces titans asiatiques surarmés et les risques de conflits entre eux (Inde/Pakistan, Chine/Japon, etc.), le dossier palestinien apparaît franchement marginal, surtout par ces temps de calme relatif. Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche tapera-t-il du poing sur la table durant son second mandat? Non, d’autant moins que la nouvelle coalition de «Bibi» est plus présentable que la précédente, ­dépourvue de ministres ultraorthodoxes mais riche de la très appréciée Tzipi Livni, en charge du… processus de paix. Mais, en définitive, la vraie question n’est-elle pas de savoir si Obama croit encore possible le règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien? Si tel n’est pas le cas, on lui souhaite un agréable séjour touristique au Proche-Orient. Frédéric Encel
Bien qu’il puisse y avoir certains dans les mondes arabes et musulmans, qui prendront à cœur de sermon du président sur la coexistence et les objectifs communs, le chant des manifestants qui l’a accueilli à Ramallah aujourd’hui, dans lequel la foule réclamait des fusils lance-grenades et non plus de coopération avec les États-Unis, était peut-être une lecture plus précise de l’opinion publique. (…) Le président a peut-êrtre estimé qu’il devait faire précéder tout discours de paix par un émouvant hymne au sionisme et le droit d’Israël à se défendre contre ses ennemis, afin qu’ils se sentent suffisamment en sécurité pour accepter le compromis. Mais à une culture politique palestinienne qui cherche toujours la délégitimisation d’Israël, ceci est une invitation à la confrontation, pas l’accomodement. Tant que le nationalisme palestinien restera lié au rejet du sionisme, il sera difficile, voire impossible, pour même un leader palestinien plus fort qu’Abbas de faire la paix. Et c’est pourquoi que sans aucun doute à la frande frustration du président Obama, il continuerat à éviter comme la peste les pourparlers. Le discours de Jérusalem d’Obama sur les vertus d’une solution à deux États n’est pas plus susceptibles de produire un que celui de Bush donné en 2002 en devenant le premier président américain à approuver officiellement la création d’un Etat palestinien. A ce moment là aussi, Bush favait ormulé son appui au concept dans un contexte de sécurité israéliennes et des droits des Palestiniens (bien que Bush ait également approuvé la démocratie palestinienne, un point qu’Obama judicieusement évité puisque Abbas en est actuellement à sa neuvième année d’un mandat de quatre ans). Mais même si l’appui sincère de Bush a contribué à encourager ensuite le premier ministre Ariel Sharon à se retirer de la bande de Gaza (une erreur colossale qui s’a aggravé  la sécurité du pays et qui ne sera répète ni par Netanyahu ni par aucun autre dirigeant israélien en Cisjordanie), il n’a en rien fait bouger  les Palestiniens. malgré tout son brio rhétorique, les chances d’Obama de réussir là où Bush a échoué sont minimes. (…) L’ironie ici, c’est que la droite juve qui attaquera Obama pour son discours aura probablement aussi tort quant à son impact que la gauche qui l’encense. Tant que les Palestiniens resteront réticents à faire la paix, peu importe ce que pourront dire les israéliens ou Obama sur le sujet. Jonathan S. Tobin

Vous avez dit « vacances de Monsieur Hulot » ?

Batterie du système antimissile « Dôme de fer », Musée national, Yad Vashem, le mémorial de l’Holocauste, tombes de Rabin et de Theodor Herzl, basilique de la Nativité à Bethléem, Pétra …

Au lendemain de la dernière balade en Palestine du Touriste en chef et maitre es téléprompteries de la Maison Blanche …

Qui, entre les incessants gages aux panislamistes et l’abandon de ses anciens alliés aux allahakbaristes du prétendu « printemps arabe », avait passé l’essentiel de son premier mandat à multiplier les gestes d’hostilité à l’égard du gouvernement israélien …

Mais qui, détérioration de la situation syrienne et survol de territoire en cas de bombardement du programme nucléaire iranien obligent et mis à part le rappel du statut d’Etat juif d’Israël, semble néanmoins avoir obtenu des excuses israéliennes pour une évidente provocation turque …

L’éditorialiste américain Jonathan S. Tobin rappelle, après le spécialiste français du Proche-Orient Frédéric Encel il y a quelques jours, la futilité de l’entreprise …

Tant que les dirigeants palestiniens continueront à refuser la paix …

Contentions

Both Right and Left May Be Wrong About Obama’s Speech

Jonathan S. Tobin

Jewish World Review

03.21.2013

Jewish left-wingers are cheering President Obama’s Jerusalem speech in which he once again made the case for a two-state solution. Some are hoping that this will mean a renewed campaign of U.S. pressure on the Netanyahu government. With a new secretary of state in John Kerry who may well be foolish enough to believe he can succeed where so many other American peace processers have failed, perhaps they are right. But it is also possible that although Obama was eager to reiterate his ideas about the necessity of peace, the only real insights about the impact of the presidential visit may be coming from Palestinians and some of their cheerleaders.

While they will also welcome the president’s reassertion of the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own and his criticisms of Jewish settlements, it is far more probable that the part of his address today that will resonate with them is the section in which he laid out at length not only a defense of Zionism but a case for Israel’s right to self-defense and America’s ironclad guarantee of its security. Though there may be some in the Muslim and Arab worlds who will take to heart the president’s sermon on coexistence and shared goals, the chant of demonstrators that greeted him in Ramallah today, in which the crowd chanted for rocket propelled grenades, not more cooperation with the U.S., was perhaps a more accurate reading of public opinion.

Were Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, whom the president inaccurately praised as a “partner for peace,” really interested in pursuing a two-state solution, he would take up the president’s challenge and agree, as Obama insisted during their joint press conference, to a new round of peace talks without insisting on preconditions. But the odds that the embattled Abbas, who is far more worried about Hamas than he is about Israel or the U.S., will do that are slim, making any new U.S. initiative a fool’s errand.

Those who would dismiss the president’s speeches as meaningless rhetoric shouldn’t underestimate the power of words, especially from an American president, to set the tone in the region. But those who think Obama’s appeal to Israelis to force their leaders to once again take risks for peace (something that runs contrary to the verdict of the recent Israeli election) may not only be misreading the mood of the Israeli public; they are also ignoring the Palestinians.

It should first be understood that merely stating America’s desire for a renewal of the peace process without demanding anything from the parties other than that they return to the peace table does not in any way constitute pressure on Israel. To the contrary, while Israel’s new government is under no illusion about the president wanting them to change course on settlements, they heard no concrete proposals from him that they must either refuse or accede to. In Ramallah, Obama echoed Netanyahu when he pointed out that the Palestinian demand that Israel concede every main point on borders and settlements prior to the negotiations was a formula for inaction, not peace. Israel’s position remains that it is ready to talk about everything without preconditions and that is exactly what Obama endorsed. Though it is possible Obama may follow this up with pressure on Netanyahu in the coming months and years, his speech actually made it very plain that pressure for peace would have to come from the Israel public and not from an American president who has learned his lesson about the futility of trying to impose his will on the Jewish state or on a Palestinian Authority that has consistently disappointed him.

While some on the Jewish right may only be listening to the latter part of the president’s speech in which he criticized settlements, what they need to understand is that Israel’s enemies probably stopped listening after the part where he endorsed Zionism and said those who wish to erase Israel are wasting their time. It will be those words and not his call for mutual understanding that will have the most impact.

The president may have felt that he had to precede any talk about peace with a stirring paean to Zionism and the right of Israel to defend itself against its enemies in order to make them feel safe enough to compromise. But to a Palestinian political culture that still seeks Israel’s delegitimization, that is an invitation to confrontation, not accommodation. So long as Palestinian nationalism is bound up with rejection of Zionism, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for even a stronger Palestinian leader than Abbas to make peace. And that is why he will, no doubt to President Obama’s frustration, continue to avoid talks like the plague.

Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the virtues of a two-state solution is no more likely to produce one than the one George W. Bush gave in 2002 when he became the first U.S. president to officially endorse the creation of a Palestinian state. Then, too, Bush couched his support for the concept in a context of Israeli security and Palestinian rights (though Bush also endorsed Palestinian democracy, a point that Obama wisely avoided since Abbas is now serving in the ninth year of a four-year term). But while Bush’s heartfelt support helped encourage then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw from Gaza (a colossal blunder that has worsened the country’s security and that neither Netanyahu nor any other Israeli leader will repeat in the West Bank), it did nothing to move the Palestinians. For all of his rhetorical brilliance, Obama’s chances of succeeding where Bush failed are minimal.

In the absence of any peace proposal that will hinge on American pressure on Israel to make concessions, nothing will come of Obama’s peace advocacy. Obama’s critics on the right, both here and in Israel, may say that his Zionist rhetoric is insincere and that the only aspects of his speeches that can be believed are those that call for Israeli concessions. But while he may not, as Aaron David Miller said, be “in love with the idea of Israel,” he gave a plausible impression of someone who is an ardent supporter of that idea this week. After this trip, it is simply not possible to claim he is Israel’s enemy, even if some of his advice to it is unwise.

The irony here is that the Jewish right that will attack Obama for his speech is probably as wrong about its impact as the left that cheers it. As long as the Palestinians remain unwilling to make peace, it doesn’t matter what the Israelis do or what Obama says about the subject.

Voir aussi:

20 Mars 2013

Obama, le faux détracteur d’Israël

Frédéric Encel, géopolitologue et professeur à l’ESG Management School, souligne que le président américain n’a jamais menacé de sanctions Benyamin Netanyahu pour sa conduite du ­dossier palestinien.

Frédéric Encel

Le Figaro

À en croire la plupart des observateurs, les relations israélo-américaines, à l’instar de celles qui prévalent entre Barack Obama et Benyamin Netanyahu depuis (et pour encore!) quatre années, seraient exécrables. Or rien n’est moins vrai.

Certes, le président américain reproche à son vis-à-vis israélien depuis leur investiture concomitante, début 2009, de ne pas faire assez d’efforts pour reprendre les pourparlers avec le président palestinien, Mahmoud Abbas, et le lui exprime ouvertement: poignées de main glaciales à chacune de leurs entrevues, critiques publiques, absence de visite en Israël jusqu’à présent, etc. Les quatre mandats successifs de Bill Clinton et George Bush junior avaient habitué les Israéliens à plus de chaleur! Mais ces pressions ne sont pas sérieuses. Car un président américain exerçant de véritables pressions les ­assortit de menaces de sanctions.

En décembre 1948, Harry Truman (pourtant pro-israélien) exhorte David Ben Gourion à replier ses troupes victorieuses du Sinaï égyptien en pleine première guerre israélo-arabe, sous peine de blocus économique. Israël ne pourrait survivre à une telle mesure, et le fondateur de l’État juif s’incline. En octobre 1956, Dwight Eisenhower menace le même premier ministre de la même sanction s’il ne se retire pas du même terri­toire, conquis lors de la campagne de Suez. Tout comme leurs alliés français et britanniques, les Israéliens sont contraints de se retirer du sol égyptien. En octobre 1991, George Bush senior menace Yitzhak Shamir de lui refuser 10 milliards de garanties bancaires nécessaires à intégrer le million d’immigrants juifs d’URSS fraîchement arrivés s’il rejette la conférence internationale de Madrid. Bien que faucon, Shamir s’y rendra finalement… Barack Obama, lui, n’a jamais menacé le nationaliste Netanyahu de sanctions, sur aucun plan.

Économiquement d’abord, même si Israël dépend nettement moins de son allié qu’autrefois, Obama aurait pu menacer de diminuer l’aide américaine annuelle de 3 milliards de dollars. Il n’en fit rien. Diplomatiquement ensuite, il aurait pu, à l’Assemblée générale comme au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, s’abstenir ou même condamner Jérusalem à l’instar de la majorité des autres capitales lors des votes concernant plusieurs affaires – la flottille turque (juin 2009), le rapport Goldstone (novembre 2009), ou encore la reconnaissance de l’État de Palestine (novembre 2012). Or les États-Unis (ainsi que leurs alliés micro-insulaires du Pacifique!) soutinrent indéfectiblement Israël durant tout le mandat d’Obama. Militairement, enfin, ce dernier aurait pu refuser la livraison à Tsahal des puissantes bombes perforantes BLU et GBU ou ralentir la coopération balistique du programme «Dôme de fer», fragilisant Israël tant face à l’Iran que vis-à-vis du Hamas et du Hezbollah. Il s’en abstint. Comme l’indiquait le président hébreu Shimon Pérès lors de sa récente visite à Paris, jamais la coopération technologique et militaire israélo-américaine n’aura au contraire atteint une telle intensité.

Pourquoi donc ce grand écart entre le verbe et les actes? En premier lieu à cause du Congrès. Sénateurs et représentants, démocrates comme républicains, sont extrêmement défavorables à des pressions sur Israël au moment où son voisinage s’islamise (Égypte), implose en guerre civile (Syrie) ou se nucléarise (Iran). En second lieu, Obama a d’autres dossiers brûlants à traiter – outre sa lutte interne avec les républicains sur les questions socio-économiques -, à commencer par la bombe iranienne, cauchemar non seulement d’Israël, mais aussi des alliés arabes sunnites pétrolifères de Washington (Arabie saoudite). Il doit aussi gérer les tensions montantes avec la Russie, la Chine, la Corée du Nord ou encore le Pakistan ; devant ces titans asiatiques surarmés et les risques de conflits entre eux (Inde/Pakistan, Chine/Japon, etc.), le dossier palestinien apparaît franchement marginal, surtout par ces temps de calme relatif.

Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche tapera-t-il du poing sur la table durant son second mandat? Non, d’autant moins que la nouvelle coalition de «Bibi» est plus présentable que la précédente, ­dépourvue de ministres ultraorthodoxes mais riche de la très appréciée Tzipi Livni, en charge du… processus de paix. Mais, en définitive, la vraie question n’est-elle pas de savoir si Obama croit encore possible le règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien? Si tel n’est pas le cas, on lui souhaite un agréable séjour touristique au Proche-Orient.

Frédéric Encel est l’auteur de l’«Atlas géopolitique d’Israël» (Autrement, 2012)

Voir également:

En Israël, Obama voyage en quête d’agrément

Libération

19 mars 2013

Le président américain entame aujourd’hui une visite de quatre jours, sans plan de paix, mais avec l’espoir de redorer son image dans la région.

Lorraine Millot Correspondante à Washington

Avant même son arrivée en Israël aujourd’hui, Barack Obama ne jure plus que par «Bibi». Dans une interview à la télévision israélienne, au grand amusement des diplomates, le président américain n’a cessé d’employer le surnom du Premier ministre de l’Etat hébreu pour assurer que sa relation avec «Bibi» est «professionnelle et formidable». Fini donc le temps des insultes, quand le président américain se voulait trop occupé pour recevoir le même Benyamin Nétanyahou de passage à l’ONU, ou lorsqu’un journaliste bien introduit à la Maison Blanche, Jeffrey Goldberg, pouvait rapporter, en janvier encore, qu’Obama considérait le dirigeant israélien comme un «lâche».

Le voyage de quatre jours que Barack Obama entame aujourd’hui en Israël, dans les Territoires palestiniens et en Jordanie, vise à remettre la relation israélo-américaine sur de meilleurs rails après toute une série de malentendus, épreuves de force et crises de nerfs.

«Touriste». Le Président n’arrive pas porteur d’une «nouvelle initiative» de paix, a prévenu d’entrée la Maison Blanche, qui s’est efforcée de réduire les attentes autant que possible à l’approche de cette visite. Le principal objectif d’Obama sera de «parler directement aux Israéliens», a souligné son conseiller Ben Rhodes. L’apogée du voyage sera un discours aux jeunes Israéliens demain, au Centre des conventions de Jérusalem, explique-t-on à Washington, dans l’espoir de faire un peu mieux apprécier Obama en Israël (il y est encore très impopulaire) et de pouvoir par la suite s’appuyer sur l’opinion publique locale pour peser sur Nétanyahou. «Le conflit israélo-palestinien n’est plus une nécessité, mais seulement un hobby pour les diplomates américains», en a déduit l’éditorialiste du New York Times Thomas Friedman. «Obama pourrait bien être le premier président américain à visiter Israël en touriste», poursuivait-il dans un récent éditorial bien senti.

A défaut de présenter ses propositions de paix lors de ce voyage, Obama a prévu de multiplier les étapes symboliques : en Israël, il visitera une batterie du système antimissile «Dôme de fer», il ira au Musée national admirer les manuscrits de la mer Morte, se recueillera à Yad Vashem, le mémorial de l’Holocauste, et aussi sur les tombes d’Yitzhak Rabin et de Theodor Herzl, le fondateur du mouvement sioniste. L’idée est d’honorer les racines historiques d’Israël pour corriger une impression malheureuse donnée par Obama qui, dans son fameux discours du Caire au monde musulman, avait semblé fonder toute la légitimité d’Israël sur l’Holocauste. La visite sur la tombe de Herzl sera pour le moins inhabituelle, comme le soulignait Martin Indyk lors d’un récent briefing au think tank Brookings. «J’espère qu’ils réussiront à la trouver», ironisait cet ancien ambassadeur américain à Tel-Aviv, avouant n’y être lui-même encore jamais allé.

Côté palestinien, Barack Obama a prévu de se rendre à la basilique de la Nativité à Bethléem – adressant ainsi un geste aux chrétiens pris dans la tourmente des printemps arabes -, et de rencontrer quelques jeunes à Ramallah, de façon plus informelle, en marge de ses entretiens avec Mahmoud Abbas et le Premier ministre, Salam Fayyad. En Jordanie enfin, Obama compte visiter le site de Pétra plutôt qu’un des camps où des centaines de milliers de réfugiés syriens affluent. S’il s’en tient à ce programme, le président américain risque effectivement de donner une allure «touristique» à ce voyage.

«Nuance». Les sujets sérieux de discussion avec les dirigeants israéliens et palestiniens ne manqueront tout de même pas, le plus pressant restant le programme nucléaire iranien. Washington et l’Etat hébreu ont des «différences de nuance» sur l’Iran, rappelle Natan Sachs, un autre expert de l’institut Brookings : «Les Israéliens mettent l’accent sur la capacité nucléaire iranienne, tandis que les Américains se focalisent sur l’arme nucléaire elle-même, ce qui fait une différence importante de calendrier.»

Au cours de son interview à la télévision israélienne enregistrée la semaine dernière, Obama a estimé que Téhéran «aurait encore besoin d’à peu près un an pour développer une arme nucléaire». Lors de son fameux discours aux Nations unies de septembre, Benyamin Nétanyahou avait annoncé que l’Iran pourrait construire sa première bombe dès le printemps ou l’été 2013. Puisque l’heure est au «redémarrage» de la relation, en public du moins, Obama et «Bibi» devraient pourtant afficher lors de cette visite une même approche : donner encore quelques mois de négociation à l’Iran, tout en le menaçant de frappes militaires s’il ne saisit pas cette dernière chance.

Voir enfin:

Mr. Obama Goes to Israel

Thomas Friedman

The New York Times

March 12, 2013

In case you haven’t heard, President Obama leaves for Israel next week. It is possible, though, that you haven’t heard because it is hard for me to recall a less-anticipated trip to Israel by an American president. But there is a message in that empty bottle: Little is expected from this trip — not only because little is possible, but because, from a narrow U.S. point of view, little is necessary. Quietly, with nobody announcing it, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a necessity to a hobby for American diplomats. Like any hobby — building model airplanes or knitting sweaters — some days you work on it, some days you don’t. It depends on your mood, but it doesn’t usually matter when that sweater gets finished. Obama worked on this hobby early in his first term. He got stuck as both parties rebuffed him, and, therefore, he adopted, quite rationally in my view, an attitude of benign neglect. It was barely noticed.

The shift in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from necessity to hobby for the U.S. is driven by a number of structural changes, beginning with the end of the cold war. There was a time when it was truly feared that an Arab-Israeli war could trigger a wider superpower conflict. During the October 1973 war, President Nixon raised America’s military readiness to Defcon 3 to signal the Soviets to stay away. That is not likely to happen today, given the muted superpower conflict over the Middle East. Moreover, the discovery of massive amounts of oil and gas in the U.S., Canada and Mexico is making North America the new Saudi Arabia. So who needs the old one?

Of course, oil and gas are global commodities, and any disruption of flows from the Middle East would drive up prices. But though America still imports some oil from the Middle East, we will never again be threatened with gas lines by another Arab oil embargo sparked by anger over Palestine. For China and India, that is another matter. For them, the Middle East has gone from a hobby to a necessity. They are both hugely dependent on Middle East oil and gas. If anyone should be advancing Arab-Israeli (and Sunni-Shiite) peace diplomacy today it is the foreign ministers of India and China.

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine last week, Robin M. Mills, the head of consulting at Manaar Energy, noted that “according to preliminary figures reported this week, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer.” Mills described this as a “shift as momentous as the U.S. eclipse of Britain’s Royal Navy or the American economy’s surpassing of the British economy in the late 19th century. … The United States is set to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017.”

At the same time, while the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict emotionally resonates across the Arab-Muslim world, and solving it is necessary for regional stability, it is clearly not sufficient. The most destabilizing conflict in the region is the civil war between Shiites and Sunnis that is rocking Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen. While it would be a good thing to erect a Palestinian state at peace with Israel, the issue today is will there be anymore a Syrian state, a Libyan state and an Egyptian state.

Finally, while America’s need to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace has never been lower, the obstacles have never been higher: Israel has now implanted 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, and the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have seriously eroded the appetite of the Israeli silent majority to withdraw from the West Bank, since one puny rocket alone from there could close Israel’s international airport in Lod.

For all these reasons, Obama could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.

Good news for Israel, right? Wrong. While there may be fewer reasons for the U.S. to take risks to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is still a powerful reason for Israel to do so. The status quo today may be tolerable for Israel, but it is not healthy. And more status quo means continued Israeli settlements in, and tacit annexation of, the West Bank. That’s why I think the most important thing Obama could do on his trip is to publicly and privately ask every Israeli official he meets these questions:

“Please tell me how your relentless settlement drive in the West Bank does not end up with Israel embedded there — forever ruling over 2.5 million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the world community? I understand why Palestinian dysfunction and the Arab awakening make you wary, but still. Shouldn’t you be constantly testing and testing whether there is a Palestinian partner for a secure peace? After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western — a totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around you. Everyone is focused on me and what will I do. But, as a friend, I just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?”

Voir enfin:

Obama’s mysterious visit

Caroline B. Glick

The Jerusalem Post

19/03/2013

In contrast to the high expectations the White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements, Obama has downplayed his visit to Israel.

Why is US President Barack Obama coming to Israel today? In 2008, then president George W. Bush came to celebrate Israel’s 60th Independence Day, and to reject Israeli requests for assistance in destroying Iran’s nuclear installations.

In 1996, then-president Bill Clinton came to Israel to help then-prime minister Shimon Peres’s electoral campaign against Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

It is possible that Obama is coming here in order to build up pro-Israel bonafides. But why would he bother? Obama won his reelection bid with the support of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. Their support vindicated his hostility toward Israel in his first term. He has nothing to prove.

It is worth comparing Obama’s visit to Israel at the start of his second term of office, with his visit to Cairo at the outset of his first term in office.

Ahead of that trip, the new administration promised that the visit, and particularly Obama’s “Address to the Muslim World,” would serve as a starting point for a new US policy in the Middle East. And Obama lived up to expectations.

In speaking to the “Muslim World,” Obama signaled that the US now supported pan-Islamists at the expense of US allies and Arab nationalist leaders, first and foremost then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Moreover, in castigating Israel for its so-called “settlements”; channeling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by intimating that Israel exists because of the Holocaust; and failing to travel from Cairo to Jerusalem, preferring instead to visit a Nazi death camp in Germany, Obama signaled that he was downgrading US ties with the Jewish state.

In sharp contrast to the high expectations the Obama White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements and leaks, Obama and his advisers have downplayed the importance of his visit to Israel, signaling there will be no significant changes in Obama’s policies toward Israel or the wider Middle East.

For instance, in his interview with Israel television’s Channel 2 last week, on issue after issue, Obama made clear that there will be no departure from his first term’s policies. He will continue to speak firmly and do nothing to prevent Iran from developing the means to produce nuclear weapons.

He will not release convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from federal prison despite the fact that Pollard’s life sentence, and the 28 years he has already served in prison are grossly disproportionate to all sentences passed on and served by offenders who committed similar crimes.

As for the Palestinians, Obama repeated his fierce opposition to Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and his insistence that Israel must get over its justified fears regarding Palestinian intentions and withdraw from Judea and Samaria, for its own good.

Given that all of these are positions he has held throughout his presidency, the mystery surrounding his decision to come to Israel only grows. He didn’t need to come to Israel to rehash policies we already know.

Much of the coverage of Obama’s trip has focused on symbolism. For instance, the administration decided to boycott Ariel University by not inviting its students to attend Obama’s speech to students from all other universities that is set to take place on Thursday in Jerusalem. In boycotting Ariel, Obama’s behavior is substantively the same as that of Britain’s Association of University Teachers. In 2005 that body voted to boycott University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. But while the AUT’s action was universally condemned, Obama’s decision to bar Israelis whose university is located in a city with 20,000 residents just because their school is located beyond the 1949 armistice lines has generated litte attention.

Then again, seeing as Obama’s snub of Ariel University is in keeping with the White House’s general war with anyone who disputes its view that Judea and Samaria are Arab lands, the lack of outrage at his outrageous behavior makes sense. It doesn’t represent a departure from his positions in his first term.

The only revealing aspect of Obama’s itinerary is his decision to on the one hand bypass Israel’s elected representatives by spurning the invitation to speak before the Knesset; and on the other hand to address a handpicked audience of university students – an audience grossly overpopulated by unelectable, radical leftists.

In the past, US presidents have spoken before audiences of Israeli leftists in order to elevate and empower the political Left against the Right. But this is the first time that a US president has spurned not only the elected Right, but elected leftist politicians as well, by failing to speak to the Knesset, while actively courting the unelectable radical Left through his talk to a university audience.

Clinton constantly embraced the Israeli Left while spurning the Right – famously refusing to meet with then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997 while both leaders’ jets were parked on the same tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

Clinton’s assiduous courtship of Israel’s Left enabled him to portray himself as a true friend of Israel, even as he openly sought to undermine and overthrow the elected government of the country.

But Clinton always favored leftist politicians – Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak – over rightist politicians. He did not spurn leftist politicians in favor of even more radical unelectable leftists.

So what does Obama seek to achieve with this novel practice? Clearly he is not attempting to use the opportunity of addressing this audience to express contrition for his first term’s policies. In his interview with Channel 2, Obama spoke of the instability on Israel’s borders – but never mentioned the key role he played in overthrowing Mubarak and empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, thus emptying of meaning Israel’s peace treaty with the most populous Arab state.

He never mentioned that his feckless handling of Syria’s civil war ensured that the moderate opposition forces would be eclipsed by radical Islamists affiliated with al-Qaida, as has happened, or expressed concern that al-Qaida forces are now deployed along Syria’s border with Israel, and that there is a real and rising danger that Syria’s arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missiles, will fall into their hands. Indeed, Tuesday it was reported that the al-Qaida infiltrated opposition attacked regime forces with chemical weapons.

Obama will not use his speech before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s most outspoken critics to express remorse over the hostility with which he treated Israel’s leader for the past four years. He will not admit that his decision to coerce Israel into suspending Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria in his first term gave the PLO justification for refusing to meet with or negotiate with the Israeli government.

So since he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, and he intends to continue the same policies in his second term, why did he decide to come to Israel? And why is he addressing, and so seeking to empower the radical, unelectable Left? Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was held at the Islamist Al-Azhar Univerity. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama weakened Mubarak in three different ways. First, Al-Azhar’s faculty members regularly issue religious rulings calling for the murder of non-Muslims, prohibiting the practice of Judaism, and facilitating the victimization of women. In stating these views, Al-Azhar’s leadership has demonstrated that their world view and values are far less amenable to American strategic interests and moral values than Mubarak’s world view was. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama signaled that he would reward the anti-American Islamists at the expense of the pro-American Arab nationalists.

Second, in contempt of Mubarak’s explicit wishes, Obama insisted on inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his speech. In acting as he did, Obama signaled that under his leadership, the US was abandoning its support for Mubarak and transferring its sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, by addressing his remarks to the Muslim nation, Obama was perceived as openly rejecting Egyptian nationalism, and indeed the concept of unique national identities among the various Arab states. In so doing, Obama undercut the legitimacy of the Egyptian regime while legitimizing the pan- Islamic Muslim Brotherhood which rejects nationalism in favor of a call for the establishment of a global caliphate.

As subsequent events showed, the conditions for the Egyptian revolution that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power were prepared during Obama’s speech at al-Azhar.

It is possible that in addressing the unelected radical Left in Jerusalem, Obama seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli government. But if that is the plan, then it would bespeak an extraordinary contempt and underestimation of Israeli democracy. Such a plan would not play out the same way his Egyptian speech did.

There are two possible policies Obama would want to empower Israel’s radical, unelectable Left in order to advance. First, he could be strengthening these forces to help them pressure the government to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to convince the Palestinian Authority to renew negotiations and accept an Israeli peace offer.

While Obama indicated in his interview with Channel 2 that this is his goal, it is absurd to believe it. Obama knows there is no chance that the Palestinians will accept a deal from Israel. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat both rejected Israeli peace offers made by far more radical Israeli governments than the new Netanyahu government. Moreover, the Palestinians refused to meet with Israeli negotiators while Mubarak was still in power. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Cairo, there is absolutely no way they will agree to negotiate – let alone accept a deal.

This leaves another glaring possibility. Through the radical Left, Obama may intend to foment a pressure campaign to force the government to withdraw unilaterally from all or parts of Judea and Samaria, as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. If this is Obama’s actual policy goal, it would represent a complete Europeanization of US policy toward Israel. It was the EU that funded radical leftist groups that pushed for Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005.

And in the past week, a number of commentators have spoken and written in favor of such a plan.

The truth we don’t know why Obama is coming to Israel. The Obama administration has not indicated where its Israel policy is going. And Obama’s Republican opposition is in complete disarray on foreign policy and not in any position to push him to reveal his plans.

What we can say with certainty is that the administration that supports the “democratically elected” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and did so much to clear all obstacles to its election, is snubbing the democratically elected Israeli government, and indeed, Israel’s elected officials in general. Obama’s transmission of this message in the lead-up to this visit, through symbols and action alike does not bode well for Israel’s relations with the US in the coming four years.

4 Responses to Obama/Israël: Qu’ils mangent de la rhétorique ! (When all else fails, play tourist !)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    Pour les excuses à la Turquie, ne pas oublier aussi le gaz

    J'aime

  2. […] celles du coup de la prétendue centralité du conflit israélo-palestinien (entendez: la responsabilité israélienne) pour la résolution des problèmes de la région […]

    J'aime

Répondre à Syrie: Dix ans après la tragédie irakienne, la farce syrienne ? (The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is finally unraveling) | jcdurbant Annuler la réponse.

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