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Thursday, March 25, 2010
Weekly Commentary: Israel Policy Makers Should Assume a Two Term Obama Presidency

Weekly Commentary: Israel Policy Makers Should Assume a Two Term Obama
Presidency

Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 25 March 2010

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sits with his "seven ministers'
forum" tomorrow afternoon they should analyze Israel options based on the
working assumption that U.S. President Obama will ultimately serve two terms
rather than that President Obama will already find himself seriously
weakened as we approach the November congressional elections and perhaps
even essentially relegated to lame duck status for the balance of his term
after those elections give expression to a massive shift against Mr. Obama.

The second scenario might justify a policy of concessions to buy time with
the expectation that they can be contained as Israel finds itself in a much
stronger position vis--vis Obama in a few months. That was part of the
logic for the housing construction freeze in Judea and Samaria that was set
to expire just as the congressional campaigns will be heating up in the
U.S..

But there's no guaranty that this is how it will play out. And it could
turn out to be a devastating mistake to rely on it.

Assuming a two term Obama presidency radically changes the ramifications and
consequences of the concessions Israel makes today.

Let's not kid ourselves.

This is a man who genuinely believes that Israel should pull out of the
Golan in return for a piece of paper; that turning Jerusalem into a
patchwork quilt of sovereignties is workable; that Israel's national
heritage claims to sites beyond the Green Line are either irrelevant or
should be addressed at the most by paperwork ostensibly assuring some kind
of access to those locations and that Israel's security needs can be met by
a combination of pieces of paper and gizmos.

And he is surrounded by people who share this view - both inside and outside
his administration.

Conceding on Jerusalem construction today will only encourage heightened
pressure to implement policies that are in line with President Obama's
beliefs.

Pressure that a confused Israeli public will find ever more difficult to
support withstanding after a freeze in Jerusalem was justified.

There is a difference between Jerusalem and many of the other issues.

Construction in Jerusalem is an easy consensus issue that most Israelis
understand.

Should Mr. Netanyahu opt to concede on Jerusalem construction, he will find
himself facing American demands for other policy concessions with the
Israeli public split as concession supporters argue that the hard earned
benefits of the Jerusalem construction freeze concession will be lost if
Israel refuses to make the next concession.

The slippery slope is indeed both steep and slippery.

No illusions here.

Taking a stand today will have unpleasant consequences.

But they are dwarfed by what Israel could very well face should the "seven
ministers' forum" to opt for appeasement.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il

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