The Bibi debate: Washington Post vs. Ha’aretz


The Washington Post says it’s time for the Obama administration to give Benjamin Netanyahu some space:

In the weeks before President Obama’s Cairo address to the Muslim world, his administration opened a striking public breach with the Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu. Even aside from any possible usefulness for courting Arab opinion, this was probably necessary. Mr. Netanyahu, who has refused to publicly support Palestinian statehood and insisted that Israeli settlement expansion will continue, was in need of a wake-up call. So the president has said repeatedly that he expects Israel to start moving toward a two-state solution, and he and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have bluntly insisted that all Israeli settlement activity stop. The medicine has had its effect: Israeli media are full of talk of the "crisis" between Washington and Jerusalem and of the fateful choice that Mr. Netanyahu must make between good relations with Washington and the hard-line ideology of his Likud party.

The question is whether the administration will allow Mr. Netanyahu the room to side with Mr. Obama, should he choose to do so.  …

A good compromise is achievable. Mr. Netanyahu should publicly acknowledge that the peace process will lead to Palestinian statehood, and should adopt a series of measures curtailing settlements. He should quickly dismantle those deemed illegal, end all government subsidies, prohibit the territorial expansion of all settlements, stop new construction in those outside Israel’s West Bank fence and agree to a monitoring mechanism that will prevent cheating. Mr. Obama can reasonably accept that as a freeze, while not requiring that not a single brick be laid in any of the more than 120 West Bank communities. Then he can turn to the equally important task of pressing Palestinian leaders and Arab states for measures that match Israel’s actions.

Ha’aretz says it’s time for Bibi to step up (and wants him to go even further than the Washington Post does on freezing settlement):

Netanyahu announced yesterday that he would present his political plan next week, in response to Obama’s Cairo speech. When writing his address, Netanyahu should keep in mind the value of maintaining positive relations with the United States and of taking advantage of the political opportunity offered by the Obama initiative. He should therefore accept the road map without resorting to sophistry, renew negotiations over a final-status agreement and declare that settlement construction will be frozen and outposts evacuated.

Faster than expected, the prime minister has reached the moment when he must decide between adhering to his outdated political platform and advancing the national interest by achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians and maintaining good relations with the United States….

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