Can Obama Stop Netanyahu’s New Settlement Project?


Robert Wright thinks that President Obama needs to respond forcibly to Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to undertake a new round of settlement construction in a highly contested area east of Jerusalem. “This was more than a slap at Obama,” he says, “It was a slap at the United States.” Here’s his proposal:

[1] Write out a statement that he’s willing to deliver on TV. It should criticize Netanyahu sharply and say something that will shock the Israeli people: If the prime minister is going to behave this outrageously, America can no longer guarantee that it will stand by Israel’s side at the United Nations. It can no longer guarantee that it will veto Security Council resolutions that declare West Bank settlements in violation of international law. Indeed, America may now introduce such a resolution–that’s how outrageous this latest settlement project is.

[2] Call Netanyahu, read him the statement, and tell him that if the settlement plans haven’t been reversed within 48 hours, Obama will deliver the statement on TV.

That’s never going to happen, but it’s something to fantasize about, I suppose. Honestly, Netanyahu seems hellbent on making sure that Israel doesn’t have a single friend left in the world aside from the United States, and even that’s a relationship he’s apparently willing to strain to the breaking point. The part I don’t get is what he thinks the endgame is here. If Netanyahu’s new settlement finally puts a stake through the heart of a two-state solution, and Israel is left isolated and almost entirely friendless, what’s left? Permanent occupation within a vast sea of global hostility? Is that really the plan?

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