In the Washington Post this weekend, Stephen Walt — most recently seen trying to explain the endorsement by Osama bin Laden of his book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" co-written with John Mearsheimer — blames the lack of progress in the Middle East completely on Israel’s lack of a settlement freeze, then gives J Street a public endorsement they probably aren’t thrilled about:
The good news is that there is a new pro-Israel organization, J Street, which is committed to the two-state solution and firmly behind Obama. The bad news is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other defenders of the status quo remain powerful, and they will surely oppose any attempt to pressure Netanyahu. In May, for example, AIPAC drafted a letter warning Obama to "work closely and privately" with Israel. It garnered 329 signatures in the House and 76 names in the Senate. During the August recess, 56 members of Congress visited Israel, and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that it was a mistake to make settlement construction the key issue and that there was a "significant difference" between settlements in the West Bank and those in East Jerusalem.
If Obama tries to make aid to Israel conditional on a settlement freeze, Congress will simply override him. Putting real pressure on Israel risks alienating key politicians and major Democratic fundraisers, as well as Israel’s supporters in the media, imperiling the rest of Obama’s agenda and conceivably his prospects for reelection. Moreover, several of Obama’s top advisers, such as Dennis Ross, are enthusiastic supporters of America’s "special relationship" with Israel and would almost certainly oppose using U.S. leverage to force Israeli concessions. Obama and special envoy George Mitchell are negotiating with one hand tied behind their backs, and Netanyahu knows it.
If tangible progress toward a viable Palestinian state does not happen soon, however, Abbas and other moderate Palestinians will only be weakened and radical groups such as Hamas only strengthened. Obama’s commitment to two states for two peoples, and his declaration in Cairo that "it is time for these settlements to stop," will sound hollow. Israel will be stuck repressing millions of angry Palestinians and will increasingly resemble an apartheid state. As former prime minister Ehud Olmert put it in 2007, failure to achieve a two-state solution will force Israel into a "South-African style struggle." And if that happens, he warned, "Israel is finished."