Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Blog

Writing in Foreign Policy, U.S. Middle East policy insider Aaron David Miller predicted a major clash between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should Obama win a second term. While acknowledging that the Republican talking point that U.S.-Israeli relations are at their lowest point ever is campaign rhetoric (citing previous more significant tensions between the two nations), he nonetheless suggests that this “turbulence” is unique because of its extended nature. While previous tensions have frequently ended relatively quickly with the departure of either the U.S. president or the Israeli Prime Minister (think presidents Carter and Bush the first, as well as Prime Minister Shamir), President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu both have a good shot at political survival in their positions for years to come. Miller speculates that this would result in a “wild ride” that we should buckle our seatbelts for. 

Miller describes Obama’s and Netanyahu’s wishes for the coming elections like this: 

If Obama had a wish regarding Israel, it would be that anyone -- Shaul Mofaz, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert -- replace Bibi. And when Bibi blows out the candles on his next birthday, he'll be wishing that Mitt Romney defeats Obama in November. 

There is one primary problem with Miller’s piece. He contends that “on the issue of a peace settlement, Obama's views are much closer to the Palestinians than to Israel.” But a two-state settlement on the basis of the 1967 border whereby Israel ends the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem is not “the Palestinian view,” but that of the United Nations, as evident by a mountain of U.N. Security Council resolutions and General Assembly votes. Rather than paint Obama as pro-Palestinian (which certainly would not be accurate), one should note that Obama seems to be on board with the international consensus on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that forces Palestinians to give up 78% of their historic homeland. That’s not pro-Palestinian partisanship; that’s a pretty centrist position, as far as the world is concerned.

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