Saturday, March 13, 2010

Clinton and East Jerusalem

Jeffrey Goldberg has an apt post about Hillary Clinton's scolding of Netanyahu over East Jerusalem settlement building:

So Hillary has picked the right fight, and the Obama Administration has picked the right person to pick the fight: A former senator from New York who is married to one of Israel's favorite ex-presidents. I might be over-optimistic here, but maybe this scolding will help Bibi focus on what's important: Keeping Israel in America's good graces so that the two countries can together figure out a way to neutralize the Iranian threat.

She is right to use her husband's popularity in Israel as leverage in the wake of the needless, belligerent act on Israel's part. I am nearly always a supporter of Israel, as it is the only legitimate democratic and open society in the Middle and Near East - with the exception of another steadfast ally, Turkey. That is not to say that Israel has any right to occupy the West Bank for any other reason than for security purposes. Yet, as is widely known, the occupation seems to be as much about illegal expansion of territory as it is about security. But the Palestinian leadership in under Abu Mazen has shown signs recently of opening to direct peace talks with Tel Aviv. Hopefully, this is more than an admonishment of Israeli hubris. Maybe peace talks can happen because of this assertion of will by the Clinton. Netanyahu has spoken before about his dialogues with President Obama and the personal comity they engendered between the two men. Let's hope the construction in East Jerusalem is a test of American fortitude and not Netanyahu's caving to the Israeli version of our Christianist right.

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