The reactions are rolling in a day after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and President Obama made nice.
Like Mikey, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee likes, and thinks the Palestinians and the Arabs need to climb aboard:
As the President said at the White House today while meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel, “the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. It encompasses our national security interests, our strategic interests, but most importantly, the bond of two democracies who share a common set of values.”
AIPAC strongly agrees.
The United States and Israel are strategic partners, bound together by common interests and shared values. That is why the American people are overwhelmingly pro-Israel and support a strong and abiding US-Israel relationship that guarantees the security of the Jewish State.
President Obama underscored America’s special relationship with Israel again today: “We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are leveled against us — against it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It’s got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And that’s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.”
Likewise, we applaud the President’s call on the Palestinians to accept Israel’s long standing invitation to begin direct peace negotiations, saying explicitly, “my hope is…direct talks [begin] well before the moratorium has expired.”
B’nai B’rith International also liked what Obama said about Israel’s "unique security requirements" and made much of the exchange the two leaders had on Iran:
Iran was described by both leaders as posing a profound danger to peace in the region and the world. Obama and Netanyahu discussed U.N. sanctions against Iran as well as the bill the president recently signed into law ratcheting up U.S. sanctions against the Tehran regime. The president made clear that the international community must not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. The president said, “And so we intend to continue to put pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behavior that has made it a threat to its neighbors and the international community.”
Noah Pollak at Commentary is encouraged, somewhat:
It was noteworthy that Obama explicitly affirmed in his opening remarks that Israel and the United States share “national security interests [and] our strategic interests.” One of the worst aspects of the recent drama was the inference by administration officials that Israeli and U.S. strategic interests were diverging or even in conflict. It wasn’t very long ago that President Obama was saying that the Israeli-Arab conflict is costing American “blood and treasure.” For now, at least, the administration is avoiding such rhetoric and instead emphasizing the traditional features of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
So is Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.), a rising GOP star who is now in Israel on a congressional tour funded by AIPAC’s non-profit affiliate the American Israel Educational Foundation — in a backhanded way.. Hopefully Roskam’s criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy will finally put to bed the "beyond water’s edge" hypocrisies both parties practice — in the wired age, what difference does a political attack’s dateline make? (IE, Rep. Pete: You’re on notice: In 4-8 years, a GOP president is in office, a leading Dem slams her overseas — and no comment from you, or I call you on it.)
I hope that today marks a new direction from President Obama on working with our Israeli partners to focus in on eliminating the threat of terrorism in that region.
As the U.S.’s most strategic and democratic ally in the Middle East, I am deeply concerned by the decline in trust our nation is experiencing in Israel. The U.S. and indeed the entire international community face many serious challenges that we cannot address alone. Here in Israel, there is a real sense that the historic friendship and partnership between the U.S. and Israel has been tarnished by recent U.S. actions to undermine Israel at the United Nations and by the White House’s cold shoulder to Israeli leaders in March. Today’s meeting represents an opportunity to polish away these impurities and leave the long-standing partnership between the U.S. and Israel once again shining brightly.
Moving forward, the U.S. must work constructively with our international allies to promote security and stability in the Middle East. American security and prosperity depend upon it.”
Speaking of minds changing, Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast wants Obama to shed what he says is the nice guy act:
What kind of schmuck does Netanyahu think Obama is? He wants Obama to push the Palestinians into direct talks with Israel—talks the Palestinians are wary of because they fear that Netanyahu isn’t serious about negotiating a Palestinian state. The Netanyahu-Obama meeting was meant to help jumpstart those direct talks, and yet Netanyahu wouldn’t even utter the words “Palestinian state,” let alone outline what its borders should be. (Something Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has done in detail). The bald reality is this: Netanyahu has zero interest in birthing a Palestinian state until Hamas is crushed and the Iranian regime is disarmed, if not overthrown. And he can’t seem to grasp that movement towards a Palestinian state might actually further those goals. If this is what Obama gets for playing nice, perhaps he should consider going back to tough love.
"Nice guy?" Mort Klein at the Zionist Organization of America isn’t buying what he says are politically motivated "pleasantries":
They both praised each other claiming the US-Israel relationship remains friendly and strong. But both had political reasons for making this claim. Prime Minister Netanyahu will suffer support at home if Israelis believe relations with America have deteriorated. President Obama is worried that pro-Israel Jews and Christians will punish the Democrats at the polls in November if they continue to see Obama as hostile to Israel, favoring the Palestinian Arabs. Recent polls show almost 70% of American Jews support criticizing President Obama’s relentless pressure on Israel.
But, in spite of the positive public face Obama and Netanyahu portrayed, senior Israeli officials have told me privately that the pressure being exerted on Israel by Obama is unprecedented in their experience. Very recently, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, spoke of relations with America as worse than a crisis – instead it is a major “tectonic shift.”
In the Los Angeles Times, Aaron David Miller, who survived three presidents’ peacemaking, has advise for a fourth, should he head into summit-land:
If he tries to follow in the footsteps of Clinton, he should learn the lessons of July 2000: Be fairly confident of what you can get from each side before you go to a high-risk summit; know where the gaps are and be ready to bridge them; control the pace and the structure of the negotiations with a single negotiating text that you own; and don’t argue for one side at the expense of the other.
Ignoring these lessons will produce another failed summit; and worse still, the president who hopes to deliver a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be the one who ends up burying it.