Obama Should Let the UN apply Economic Sanctions to Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his far rightwing government have slapped President Obama in the face with mail gloves by refusing to extend the freeze on new colonies in the Palestinian West Bank. Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his refusal to go forward with direct negotiations if Israelis were going to be seizing land that was being negotiated for while the talks were ongoing!

President Obama has few options in forcing Netanyahu back to the negotiating table. The US Congress controls the purse strings, and Obama cannot punish the obstreperous Likud government by cutting aid or military weaponry, without the cooperation of Congress. Republican Eric Cantor has already pledged to run interference for Netanyahu in Congress, against Obama.

But there is one thing Obama has in his control. He can instruct the US ambassador to the UN to abstain from United Nations Security Council resolutions on Israel. Obama could simply let the UNSC be the body that forces Israel into accepting a two-state solution.

Israel is already in profound contravention of numerous UNSC resolutions, with regard to their refashioning of Jerusalem, treatment of Occupied Palestinians, the Gaza blockade, etc.

The UN Security Council should start giving Israel the Iran treatment, putting economic sanctions on it until it complies with international law and with UNSC resolutions.

Everyone is contrasting a Palestinian unilateral action such as declaring statehood with a bilateral negotiation with Israel.

But there is a third possibility,which is a multilateral process. By letting the UNSC assert itself on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Obama could achieve the main goals of his sponsored bilateral talks, even in the face of Israeli intransigence.

If push comes to shove, Obama should let the UNSC give Palestine a formal seat as a nation-state at the UN. Once Palestine is a recognized nation, it would have standing to sue Israel in international courts over the theft of Palestinian property.

Obama has nothing to lose in unleashing the Security Council on Israel. He is already being defied by the Israel lobbies,which will surely oppose his reelection bid in 2012.

The beauty of it is that Obama does not have to instruct the US ambassador to the UN to vote against Israel. A series of abstentions would do the trick.

The UN Security Council is now the last best hope for an equitable resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. If Obama continues to curb it with regard to sanctions on Israel, then he will in essence be complicit in ensconcing an Aparteheid regime. (Anyone in doubt of the Apartheid analogy should read this.

Update: 26 former EU leaders have just called for European Union economic sanctions on Israel for its continued building of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

68 Responses

  1. You suggest that the Palestinians may have standing to sue Israel for theft of Palestinian property ,if Palestine is admitted to the UN and has a seat. What you fail to realise is that Israel has to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ before that is at all possible. I doubt that Israel has consented to the jurisdiction of the ICJ.

  2. Israel would let the UN apply sanctions on the US before the vice versa ever happened. If Obama ever used the UN against zionist interests the Israel lobby would terminate his second term, despite the good job Obama is already doing against that possibility.

    • Otis,

      Pigs will fly before Obama asks for the UN to put sanctions on Israel. However, people like you naively play the anti-semitic card by thinking AIPAC has the ability to determine Presidential outcomes. If they did why is McCain or Clinton not president?

      • I agree that putting the Palestinian question in the hands o the UNSC would be a good strategy by the president, but that would require some fortitude, taking a stand, thinking outside the proverbial box etc. In other words, strategies that Obama has not shown he is capable of. Remember “Change”?

      • People who play fast and loose with the word “anti-semitic” lose credibility fast. No where in this article did Cole say that “AIPAC has the ability to determine Presidential outcomes.” All he said was that Obama “is already being defied by the Israel lobbies, which will surely oppose his reelection bid in 2012.” Note: oppose does not equal determine, just as critic of Israel does not equal anti-semite. So tired of these word games in the cause of Apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

        • ‘People who play fast and loose with the word “anti-semitic” lose credibility fast.’

          Really? Not in these United States!

        • Janet,

          you are correct that Dr. Cole never said “AIPAC has the ability to determine Presidential outcomes”, but Otis (to whom Louie was replying) essentially did, though he framed it in terms of “the Israeli lobby rather than mentioning AIPAC itself.

      • Louie
        Keep plucking that chicken mate. Your next trick will be to accuse J. Cole of hosting anti semitic comments on his blog, we know your works well.

        My earlier comment was neither naive, nor anti-semitic. It’s MY opinion. That you saw antisemitism is a reflection of your own fear-stricken state of mind.

        Anyone with a grain of sense knows that the Israel lobby is real, powerful, and is composed of various interests and ethnicities. It sometimes includes the military industrial complex, mainstream media, christian evangelicals, and neocons. Opposition to Rupert Murdoch, John Bolton or John Hagee doesn’t make you an anti semitic nut, yet.

        • Louie,

          AIPAC is real lobby with influence as is OPEC, Oil, Wall Street, Big Pharma, Health Care, Insurance, Real Estate. Is AIPAC more powerful then these interests?

          Not even close, EXXON alone with its over $400 billion annual revenue is larger then all Israelis economy with a GDP less then $300 billion. Israel is dwarfed in revenues by all the above mentioned industries.

          There is an zealousness on this board to magnify Israel and AIPACs importance and sway over the US foreign interests. Surely this makes one questions what is the root cause of this ?

          I look forward to your reply.

        • The answer to Louie’s question is that people at this site would rather believe that our murderous bias against the basic right of the Palestinians to their own homes and farms is caused by the influence of a foreign lobby exploiting our guilt over the Holocaust, instead of the much more sickening possibility that we just choose the Whiter, more Yankee-like side in every conflict out of sheer bigotry.

          I hope those people are right, too.

        • Otis,

          Louie never claimed that AIPAC “wasn’t real”, or “powerful”. It is both of those things. But to think that AIPAC could “terminate” Obama’s presidency if he grew some balls and sanctioned Israel is ridiculous. The “power of the joos” card is being played again without much basis in reality.

      • @ Louie…the new Anti-Semitism is Anti-Fascism. F-off already.

      • Louie,

        AIPAC as agents of a foreign country is completely different to corporate lobbying and the AIPAC programs are Orwellian in nature as can be seen from the documents of their predecessor organization AZC. Documents were obtained by the DOJ and show how the Israeli lobby moves to control views in every aspect of American life. You can read the documents here:
        link to irmep.org

      • You already lost the argument at the 2nd sentence of your post by applying the “anti-semitic” label without any proof of serious thinking before doing so.

  3. We might call this symmetrical justice. Isn’t it after all the Security Council that established Israel? Or am I wrong? Anyway, your suggestion will never happen. Obama seems not especially interested in helping or dealing with the Palestinians directly, really empowering them, and evidently prefers to go ‘through’ Israel, which includes the AIPAC, an annex of the Israeli government. His view of the situation is limited, parochial, US politics as usual, plain and simple. The Palestinians are one bridge too far. You’re right, he’ll get burned by US Likud backers, whether Jewish or Christian.

  4. Dear Prof. I’ll believe in fairytale before I expect Obama to do what you are suggesting. What has Obama done so far, not only related to Israel, that makes you think that Obama wants (let alone can) to do the right thing?

  5. Considering that Obama is a one term president and already lame, he could go for broke in behalf of the Palestinians, but has not enough testosterone to do it. Seriously: Why is anybody talking about that political non entity called Obama?

    • The best spin I can put on Obama is that he is ambitious. His ambition was to become the president of the USA. As soon as he achieved he did not give a damn about what he stood for, or at least suggest he stood for, or what is right for the country, or what is universally right….

  6. Based on Obama’s actions for the last two years, I do NOT think he has the ability to do anything for anyone. Obama is afraid of his own shadow, so all Congress (for Likud) would have to do is tell him he was being a bad boy and he would completely humiliate himself. Even though sending the entire US team at the UN out to “lunch” every time any vote comes up for Israel would be extremely easy to do for a President with even a minimal amount of conviction to do what is best for the US, Obama does not even have even the minimal ability to do so.

    I do not think it will not be too much longer before the Democrats start having presidential candidates for 2012 coming forward and getting lots of support. I will not be surprised to see Hilary quit as SOS and start running (although she is a poor choice because she is also owned by Likud and would go to war with Iran the day after she took office).

  7. Prof. Cole makes a good point, Obama has nothing to lose. All the US rep to the UN has to do is abstain. Israel was a creation of the UN, maybe they can then figure out to at least to de jure delegitimize Israel.

  8. It’s all about money. If and when the US military finds itself so underfunded that it cannot buy fuel unless certain nations extend credit, and if a condition for that credit worthiness is the abstentions in the UNSC that you allude to, then that will happen. So long as the US continues to hold fantasies about government building with borrowed money, then that will not happen. I believe the appropriate phrase is “Excuse me, but did your karma just run over my dogma?”

    The phonied up was against Iraq, and now the pointless conflict in Afghanistan are both pushing our credit past the limits. Odd, how Al Qaeda is able to advance the Palestinian causes, with the aid of Neocon warmongers, through expensive, pointless wars, and all with so little public discussion that our Fox news junkies will never know how or even know that we defeated ourselves.

    • You’re right – ultimately it will be our creditors who will decide the disposition of our empire. I can’t figure out who Beijing will side with. Their obsession with supporting political stasis in the 3rd World would point to them backing Israel – so might the similarity of their colonization of Tibet and Sinkiang at the expense of their natives to the Zionist project. However, China wants the good will of the world to continue to expand its corporate empire at the expense of America’s corporate empire, and less and less of the world backs Israel every day.

  9. I doubt AIPAC would let him do that. I think someday Americans are going to realize that Israel is just another Middle Eastern country, not a bastion of Western culture and democracy in the Middle East. When that happens — and not until then — we may see some balance in our treatment of the various factions.

    • Hey Billy,

      I’ve been critical of the Israeli government for a long time before I started reading Informed Comment, and since my introduction to the blog my understanding of Israel and the Middle East has only deepened.

      That said, having visited the country and having family there, I’m deeply offended by your comment. Not so much because of the gross inaccuracy of drawing an equivalence between Israel and Syria (or implying that some other country, like maybe somewhere in Europe or perhaps the U.S. is a ‘real’ bastion of Western culture and democracy), but because of the underlying assumption inherent in your language. “Just another Middle Eastern country?” Which country? Qatar? Dubai? Turkey? I’m not saying it was your intention to do so, but the language you used strikes me as essentialist and bigoted.

      I’m not arguing one way or the other about the cultural status of Israel. One term I’ve heard people in Israel use is ‘European’ (undoubtedly in part to reinforce a perceived difference between them and their neighbors), and I do think it captures a certain cosmopolitan element of Israel – plus it has juicy colonialist undertones. Anyways, please be more careful about making unsupported blanket statements about entire countries and groups of people.



      • Hey Adam,

        Your comment strikes me as sadly self-defeating and lacking self-awareness.
        It shouldn’t be hard to realize how your “underlying assumption” and the undertones in your “language” when you say “…Which country? Qatar? Dubai? Turkey?…” betrays an arrogant supremacist ideology that considers others as irredeemably lesser and doesn’t even care to (or lacks the integrity to) declare it openly and explain “why exactly”.

        The dismissive language you used in your “blanket” psuedo statement is extremely offensive to any non-israeli middle-eastern person and in a way summarizes the core cause of the conflict.
        Why *should’nt* Israel be treated “just as another country in the middle east” ? Is it not a society governed by a modern government that engages in politics to advance its own interests like any other country? Has it not invaded, occupied and practiced ethnic cleansing like many other countries in history? Does it not have its own share of religious bigotry and ethnocentric ideology? Has it not been practicing so many aspects of what we call Apartheid?

        How can you call it offensive to suggest that Israel is in some ways like any other country, without offending other middle-easterns who sense your implied disdain towards them?

        Your main message that “come on! Israel is so obviously different from/better than other middle eastern countries that I don’t even need to provide any evidence” has the hallmarks of an ideologically internalized worldview that evades objective examination. Resolving this phenomenon is the first step to peace.

      • Wow Adam – you managed to read a lot into 4 lines! But words are important and are very open to interpretation.
        That said could you please explain how Israel would not be a ‘Middle Eastern’ country …or how it would be ‘European’ because I’m pretty sure its in the Middle East not Europe?

      • Yah, people who are “into” geopolitics, whether out of self-interest or boredom or because the game of RISK! and its real-world counterparts are so fascinating and compelling (Think of it! You can TAKE OVER THE WHOLE WORLD! AND OWN AND CONTROL AND DICTATE, OH, EVERYTHING! bE THE UBERMENSCH!), always reduce things to that lazy or disingenuous shorthand called Reification (also known as hypostatisation, concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) link to en.wikipedia.org.

        So that “Iran” is or does or isn’t or doesn’t do this or that, or “The US,” or “Europe,” or “the Palestinians” (which is at least in the plural form) or “Israel.” As if the tiny “capture word” actually embraces in any substantial way the net vector of all those loving and hating and indifferent humans born and dying within some arbitrary boundary or set. And then the Wonks go on to explain in equally simplistic terms, and advocate for, this or that “policy,” which their selection of characteristics that they propagandistically impose on the hypostatisized much-bigger-reality that is then obscured behind the shorthand thought-curtain, e.g. “Israel,” just has to be followed or implemented or funded or what-ever. And all the other so-serious deep thinkers then have to run their version of the same program, coming “obviously” to very different conclusions. And sex and other pleasures, and violence and killing, and accumulation, and domination, seem to be the real drivers that grab hold of that “limbic system” where our all-too-human impulses and motivations reside and from which they issue like the plagues from Pandora’s notorious jar. link to en.wikipedia.org Our eleemosynary and friendly and altruistic impulses are apparently limited to a pretty small circle or band or tribe, and the reality is that states and nations, or “tribes with flags,” can be hijacked by “leaders” and “rulers” and “statesmen-and-women” serving their own wants, like a virus hijacks the cells of your body to make more of its own kind, to sicken and weaken and eventually kill the whole body.

        Too bad all the “forces”– corporate profit-seeking and externalizations of huge general harms, nationalism, tribalism, militarizationism, weaponizationism, rampant and idiotic “technological progress” at a pace that leaves wisdom and common sense in the dust, self-aggrandizement, anomie, and maybe a great hidden wish for Ragnarok (link to en.wikipedia.org) or Gotterdammerung,(link to, all seem to push in the same cliff-ward direction: “If I am not to survive, if I must die, then let my funeral pyre burn the world.”

        Seems like somehow the “survival instinct” has been so thoroughly submerged in “policy” that there’s not much left of a “future” for the old species.

        Too bad our 7-billion-person, grotesquely complex Real Reality never seems to comport with or react in accordance with the Pronounced And Put-Into-Practice Policies that really come about via influence, accident, error and ignorance. Stupidity, cupidity, avidity, futility… Why does it seem that the final term in the progression is most likely to be extinct-ivity?

        On the other hand, why should the evil-minded folks who have grabbed the levers of power in Israel, the businessmen who like having a large cohort of Arab/Palestinian virtual slaves to work for them, the obsessive religious so busily fractionating into smaller and smaller and more and more vicious little subgroups, and the depressed or fearful or indifferent or otherwise-occupied rest of the residents get a pass on behaviors that threaten the things that keep the species alive — meta-stability, sustainability, a necessary modicum of amity and tolerance?

        Not that it matters. The Borg have landed, and “resistance is futile.”

  10. Obama will never do that.
    He would actually have to be working for America to implement that option.
    Know anyone in the Israeli Occupied Territory of Washington who is working for America?

  11. The recent defections of the congressional Democrats are widening the rift between Obama and the party he nominally leads, so that it’s becoming increasingly clear this is going to be a one-term presidency. The sooner he realizes that he really doesn’t have any more to lose, the sooner he will be liberated to stop Haim Saban from running his State Department and take positive steps to keep his peace prize from being the travesty of all time.

  12. This is an odd post. “Obama has nothing to lose in unleashing the Security Council on Israel.” Clearly Obama has shown again and again that his sympathies lie with Israel and not with the palestinians. Jettisoning the palestinians will strengthen his position in the run-up for next presidential election.

    • I don’t think Obama has sympathies. Ralph Nader nailed Obama:

      “He has no fixed principles. He’s opportunistic – he goes for expedience, like Clinton. Some call him temperamentally conflict-averse. If you want to be harsher, you say he has no prlnciples and he’s opportunistic.”
      link to commondreams.org

    • I must say that I agree with Lennart. I used to believe that Obama was at least sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. However his policies – in many areas – clearly illustrate that President Obama does not share the views of Candidate Obama.

      I agree that he will be a one term president as well. Good riddance.

    • Israel is never satisfied, and the Repubs are even more proZionist than Obama. Now he is saying Israel and the Palestinians have to sort out their differences without him, as if the $3000million per year, the UN vetoes, the Zionist Congress, the obsequiousness of Europe were evenly distributed between Israel and the land it holds completely, and illegally, in its control.

  13. Quentin, oddly enough the resolution establishing Israel, resolution 181, was passed by the General Assembly, not the Security Council.

    As for Obama, from his record so far he doesn’t have the backbone to go against any significant interest group like AIPAC.

    • What the General Assembly giveth, the General Assembly can take away? I’d like to see a vote on rescinding Res 181.

  14. I wonder if he will have the bravery to do this? We all want to believe in change.

    Any ideas on how Obama would be punished for this by his party, The Republicans, AIPAC, etc? I’m sure you could write another article alone on all the possibilities. He would endure the wrath of many.

    He will need many allies to make this move, and I wonder who will stand by his side and will it be enough?

  15. I wish President Obama would be fair in dealing with Israel and the Palestinians, but there is almost no chance based on Obama’s actions so far.

  16. ALL far right governments stick together. Remember Germany,Italy,Japan and Spain?

  17. Wishful thinking, I’m afraid, Prof Cole, that Obama The Spineless would ever do such a thing. A great idea otherwise.

    At the rate things are going, the US is going to become a banana republic kleptocracy/plutocracy with an uneducated and underemployed population. And Israel will slide down the path of becoming ever more isolated and hated (except for its best buddies in the US). It just boggles the mind that the political and economic elites in either country really think these are desirable ends (even if they live rich and well-fed in their gated communities.

    On a much happier note, the redesign is fantastic!

  18. The U.N. is a paper tiger. Even if President Obama was willing to take a stand, I doubt U.N. sanctions would have any noticeable effect.

    • Why would you bag out the UN??
      I would really like to understand how anyone thinks the ‘UN’ could act any way other than how its member states direct? …I mean its a vast committee isn’t it? All it really does is reflect the imbalance of power and skewed politics which exist in the world, and which are exerted most overtly by those voting members of the Security Council – the US key amongst them ….surely??

  19. OBAMA has a legacy to make, its time to make a mark. Let the UN security council do what it was created for…bring about peace and security !

  20. Obama should simply ignore Israel. Let them fend for themselves as they attempt sort out their numerous problems. Left to its own resources, Israel might possibly evolve a more pragmatic approach to its citizens and its neighbors.

  21. @Adam
    Did you read Roger Cohen in the Times today on The “Real Jew” Debate? I’m sorry if it offends you to hear that someone thinks Americans may start thinking of Israel as “just another Middle Eastern country,” but maybe you should consider the behavior that might bring Americans to think that. If you’ve been to Israel, you may have noticed the younger Israelis aren’t as European as their parents or grandparents were. Or did you?

    • Question is, are the younger Israelis turning into Middle Easterners – or are they turning into fat, ignorant, bigoted, violent, gun-toting, greedy, McMansion-building, imperialist redneck Americans? Them and us, together holding the world at gunpoint just another day longer…

  22. This is the sort of imperial stuff Obama care about, we have a President who cares about war and occupation:

    link to nytimes.com

    December 1, 2010

    U.S. and Allies Plan More Sanctions Against Iran

    President Obama’s chief nuclear adviser said Friday that tougher measures would be part of an effort to force Iran into suspending production of nuclear fuel.

  23. 1. “Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his far rightwing government.” As Cole well knows, left-wing Labor is part of this government. Likud itself is not “far rightwing” by any measure, as it is the government that made peace with Egypt and withdrew from Gaza. The PA, on the other hand, has every attribute of a far right-wing government, as it refuses to negotiate without preconditions and it refuses to compromise on even the most basic demands that Israel could not possibly countenance, like the illusory “right to return.” It also refuses to allow any Jews in its nascent state and it imposes a death penalty on anyone who sells his land to Jews, making it an apartheid government as well.

    2. “slapped President Obama in the face with mail gloves” is ridiculous imagery – mail gloves are metal gloves used by armored knights. The implication is that Netanyahu is actively injuring Obama, both in terms of honor and physically, which is absurd. (And isn’t it interesting that Cole now cares so much about the honor of the President of the United States when he would have applauded any foreign leader treating Obama’s predecessor with contempt.)

    3. “by refusing to extend the freeze” – There was a ten month freeze,and for nine and a half of those months the Palestinian Authority refused to negotiate with Israel. As Cole will presently mention, he accepts Abbas’ refusal to negotiate while the freeze is not in effect, but did he ever say a word about Abbas’ intransigence while the freeze was in effect? Of course not!

    4. “on new colonies” – Israel has not sanctioned the building of new Jewish towns for years. They have, in fact, dismantled numerous structures built by Jews outside existing boundaries of towns and villages in Judea and Samaria. This is simply a lie. Note also that he chooses the word “colonies” and not the more popular “settlements” because he wants the reader to think of Israel as a “colonialist” state.

    5. “in the Palestinian West Bank.” Which parts of the West Bank will end up as “Palestinian” and which will end up in Israel is up for negotiation. UN resolution 242 makes clear that Israel must have secure borders and that the 1949 armistice lines were not the recognized borders of Israel. There has never been a Palestinian Arab state so calling the West Bank “Palestinian” is presumptuous. You can call it “formerly occupied by Jordan,” you can call it “disputed,” but if you want to be accurate you cannot call it “Palestinian” unless you are referring to Mandate-era Palestine, in which case all of Israel is “Palestinian” as well.

    6. “Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas” – who is now the illegal president of the PA because he went past his term in office and did not call new elections.

    7. “reaffirmed his refusal to go forward with direct negotiations” – which proves that he is the intransigent party here, not the “obstreperous Likud government” as Cole goes on to say later.

    8. “if Israelis were going to be seizing land that was being negotiated for” – All the building happening right now is within existing towns, no more land is being “seized” by Israel. In fact, Palestinian Arabs have been seizing land by planting trees and crops in disputed areas that would and should be up for negotiations.

    9. “while the talks were ongoing!” – The Pa negotiated in the past without this condition, which means that it is the PA that has changed the rules and added preconditions, not Israel.

    • 1. The nature of political parties and movements change over time. At it’s founding the US’Republican party showed itself more committed to radical social reform (the abolition of slavery for instance) than it’s competitors. Now… not so much.

      Many of the characteristics you ascribe to the P.A. are also evident in the Israeli government, regardless of which party currently possesses the Prime Ministership. Notably the refusal to negotiate without preconditions, such as the unique demand that the Palestinians acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish State (and therefore one which impilicitly excludes a significant minority of its acknowledged citizenry.)

      2. A semantic argument at best. The imagery evokes a direct challenge, as it intended to do so and has always done so. For more information on the imagery in question I heartily recommend you google the term: “glove slap” Simpsons.

      3. The “freeze” that the Israeli government agreed to included significant caveats; including exceptions for previously approved (by Israel) constructions within the contested areas, and “natural” growth of communities (to my knowledge the freeze didn’t include stopping Jewish immigration to the West Bank for the duration, so their growth likely wasn’t entirely “natural”).

      By continuing expansion to the communities the Israeli government was in practice guaranteeing that it would be more difficult politically for any Israeli government to agree to hand over those areas in any negotiation. Abbas was right to object.

      4. My preferred term has been “Squatter Communities” for several years now, as Israel has no legitimate claim to the land under international law and has no legitimate right to sanction the immigration of foreigners to the same land regardless of their ethno-religious pedigree.

      Thus, squatters. Settlers, and settlements, implies that the land was unclaimed when it’s owners arrived, this is an intentional inaccuracy.

      5. The land has been described as Palestine, in some format or other, for thousands of years at this point. The arab occupants now designated Palestinians have been there for an equally lengthy period, having survived and adapted to numerous invasions and colonising expeditions throughout the same time period.

      Whether Palestine existed as an independant nation, or as a Province in a larger empire is an irrelevant semantic argument. Israel didn’t exist prior to 1948. The question of whether Palestinians previously considered themselves a distinctive culture or ethnic group is also irrelevant; they do consider themselves to be so now. The claims they have to nationhood are legitimate as Israel, along with the host countries to their expatriate refugee communities, have made it clear they are not going to be granted citizenship within those borders.

      As noted above, Israel has no legal claim to the the West Bank, and as Jordan has relinquished their claims to it there are no other legitimate claimants to the land, save for the land’s indigenous occupants. The Palestinians.

      6. The Israeli and United States’ governments actively undermined the democratic election held by the Palestinians a few years ago, by a number of means including funding and arming a paramilitary coup.

      Crying foul that the government isn’t legitimate is a disengenous rhetorical tactic considering you’ve placed yourself in the position of championing the argument of the people who actively undermined and destroyed the legitimacy of that government.

      7. Israel’s government, including under Netanyahu, has repeatedly refused to negotiate without preconditions frequently. Ignoring those incidents and jumping up and down when Abbas refuses to do so when he’s preconditions are not met is dishonest.

      Particularly since you’ve already indicated you don’t believe he has any legitimacy to negotiate for the Palestinians anyway.

      8. The continued building serves to make it more politically difficult for Israel’s government to give up the land in negotiations. Given that they haven’t stopped immigration of foreigners to the those communities it also means that there will be an ever larger voting bloc with a vested interest in keeping the land.

      Given that those communities are on contested ground, like those trees and crops you complain of, by your argument that building shouldn’t be allowed. Of course there is a difference in that those crops and trees are the only source of income for the Palestinians who have no other homes, while those new buildings are being put up for people who are leaving perfectly viable homes elsewhere.

      9. Israel has a long history of either ignoring inconvenient agreements, or attaching a series of caveats to them which effectively state that they will only abide by the intended agreements if they feel so inclined to do so.

    • How sad to have the aggressors making excuses again. They have all the MSM, the Congress, public opinion through lies, US financing, constant attacks on neighbours. Withdraw from Gaza????it is under siege. PA illegal pres? What about the legal Hamas government you and the US overthrew?
      The true statement you made is that “Israel is Palestine as well”. Why cannot you accept the generous amount you were given in 1947, and that ALL Arab groups and Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah agree to? Peace would be too hard to take, i expect.

  24. OK, Obama tries to play to the center for better or worse: the option is civil war or a total meltdown. Maybe his approach will work on the margins, but that is be about the most we can hope for. But then,maybe he IS playing 11-level Vulcan chess, where he’s planning to show his backbone at just the right time, having gotten the Forces of Darkness right where he wants them….

    The thing about Prof Cole’s post is the idea would only entail the US abstaining from a UN move to sanctions. It would come close to being evenhanded, and being evenhanded is the ONLY way we can hope to being to help sort out the I/Pal problem. Why the US should be involved at all is another matter, and the chance of his being able to withdrawal our UNQUESTIONING support of Israel is unlikely, all things considered, soberly. Not to say it’d be impossible, but he’ll really be one of those Great Men we read about in leadership books that grown-ups cannot bring themselves to believe in.

    IMHO, we make a mistake thinking Obama can do much very easily. The presidency’s greatest power tends to be to make mistakes with executive fiat. Think Dubya. Getting re-elected and the limited options the bureaucracy thinks to deliver him, or cooperates on. also limit him horribly. (ex: notice how the Pentagon boxed him in with the menu of options they provided on Afghanistan).

    Being an optimist and thinking the guy may be shrewd, with the necessary egoless cajones, I think Prof Cole’s hope is a good idea. The problem is timing: you know, if you aren’t WITH Israel, you are AGAINST it. The day after he is re-elected he might try to buck them: Cut and deal with Iran immediately, and wire it in with enough commercial deals during the next few years to preclude the peace being undone by the neocons and their lackeys, and Israeli intransigence will have ended up finessing itself. With that move there might be a chance of changing the balance of power back to where we are pursuing its enlightening best interests of the US, and the region as well.

  25. The extremists will destroy Israel from within far before the Muslims can do it from the outside.

  26. What makes you think Obama feels slapped in the face? I don’t see it. He probably just thinks, ‘Oh well, you know best.’ I don’t think he has any concept at all of putting pressure on the Israelis and I don’t think he would have a clue how to do it.

    Obama is a salesman, not a strategist or politician. He’s not even intelligent, and has surrounded himself with some of the most reactionary advisers he could have found. He actually doesn’t have a clue.

    As the first black president, you would have thought he might have done something for black people. But he is in (very nominal) control of the most institutionally racist developed country in the world, where a FAR larger proportion of black men are criminalised and deprived of their liberty than was the case in apartheid South Africa.

    So if Obama lacks the ability and imagination to help black people in US prisons and ghettos, what can he be expected to do for Palestinian people under Israeli Occupation?

  27. Is Louise the resident Zionist lite? McCain and Clinton would be little if any more pro-Israel in actual deed than Obama has been.

  28. “The PA, on the other hand, has every attribute of a far right-wing government, as it refuses to negotiate without preconditions and it refuses to compromise on even the most basic demands that Israel could not possibly countenance, like the illusory ‘right to return.’ It also refuses to allow any Jews in its nascent state and it imposes a death penalty on anyone who sells his land to Jews, making it an apartheid government as well.”

    This and the rest of the response is simple propaganda, designed to demean Palestinians. Simple demeaning propaganda.

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