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After his government killed nine people, including one U.S. citizen, on that Gaza relief ship, Benjamin Netanyahu might have expected a chilly reception in Washington.
And after approving more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, in flagrant defiance of the Obama administration, Netanyahu didn’t deserve the red carpet treatment.
But that’s what he got—and more, as Obama gushed all over him, praising him as someone “willing to take risks for peace” and praising Israel for showing “restraint” in recent months.
Obama didn’t offer a word on the need to permanently halt settlements on the West Bank, much less on the need to dismantle those settlements.
He gave Israel as close to explicit approval as possible for its nuclear stockpile and for not signing on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, saying, in the context of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference, that Israel has “unique security requirements. … And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.”
The only blame he cast was on Palestinians, warning them not to “look for excuses for incitement,” and on Arab countries, which, Obama said, “have to be supportive of peace.” Never mind that Saudi Arabia brokered a deal years ago to have Arab states recognize Israel if it withdrew from the Occupied Territories.
For a few months there, the Obama administration was talking kind of tough toward Israel. Not anymore.
As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz commented, “For Netanyahu this was a huge victory. His claim that he can stand against U.S. pressure, making only tactical concessions, has proven true. He leveraged internal U.S. politics in his favor, without weakening the right-wing coalition in Jerusalem. Netanyahu got off easy.”
Netanyahu and the designers of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land prefer a weak U.S. President.
And they have one now in Obama.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “State Department Denies Visa to Leading Colombian Journalist and Nieman Fellow.”
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter