(Jonathan S. Tobin-Commentarymagazine).some liberals are treating the invitation extended by Speaker of the House John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a partisan intrusion into American foreign policy. That’s the spin about the proposed Netanyahu speech in today’s front-page story in the New York Times. According to the Times’s Helene Cooper, by inviting Netanyahu to speak the GOP leadership seeks to preempt the administration’s possible plans for putting forward a detailed plan to solve the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict.
The assertion that this mild interference in Obama’s efforts to outmaneuver Netanyahu is bad for the Jewish state or foolishly partisan misunderstands what is at stake.
If Obama intends to follow through on the threat already articulated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to unveil his own peace plan, then he is making an appalling blunder. The failure of the peace process has nothing to do with alleged lack of Israeli concessions (which have already led to the installation of an Islamist terror regime in Gaza and an autonomous government led by Fatah in the West Bank) nor even a failure of American leadership. American presidents have been issuing Middle East peace plans for decades, and there is no reason to believe that Barack Obama can succeed in imposing his will on the region any more than Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or Bill Clinton did.
So long as the Palestinians won’t recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter what its borders then there is nothing that the United States or Israel can do about it. Indeed, the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations, and its plan to go to the United Nations to get approval for a unilateral assertion of sovereignty over disputed territory, illustrate yet again the Palestinian disdain for a mutually-agreed upon settlement. That Obama fails to understand this basic truth makes his forthcoming foray into the peace process all the more misguided.
But if the president blunders his way into another dispute with Israel, it will become a legitimate matter for public debate. Though it’s not clear that there are all that many votes up for grabs here, both Republicans and Democrats have an obligation to speak up against any Obama plan that futilely seeks to impose conditions on Israel that its democratically elected government rejects. Far from putting Obama “on the spot,” as the Times claims, what is ripening is merely the fruit of the administration’s own mistakes.