by Noah Rothman
Following the upset in Israel that saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and its allies win a decisive victory in Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, a few postmortems have observed that Israeli voters did not merely fail to reject Bibi but they also delivered a resounding rebuke to the Obama administration. As any nigh-omnipotent being would, President Barack Obama and his administration have begun to suggest that retribution is imminent for the state of Israel, its profane government, and its idolatrous voters.
The retributive justice meted out to Israel by a wounded Obama administration began well before any votes were cast this week. According to reports, the United States has failed to renew a longstanding bilateral agreement in which the United States was compelled to provide Israel with emergency supplies of oil in the event of war. The agreement, which was first signed in 1975 in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, expired in November of last year and has not yet been restored.
But that is tame compared to the other measures the administration is contemplating in order to send a message to a democratically elected administration the White House finds distasteful. When Netanyahu insisted that he would not back the creation of a Palestinian state given the prevailing condition in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel’s opponents in the West excitedly leapt at the opportunity to brand those remarks a rejection of the peace process and a two-state solution. This allows them to label the Israeli government an irresponsible international actor, and has provided a logical basis to end America’s policy of shielding Israel from the wrath of the international community.
A report in Politico elaborated on the options before Obama as he prepares to retaliate against the willful Israelis.
Obama officials must now decide whether more international pressure on Israel can help bring a conservative Netanyahu-led government back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians — or whether such pressure would simply provoke a defiant reaction, as some fear.
Obama has other diplomatic options. He could expend less political capital to oppose growing momentum within the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel for its settlement activity.
More provocative to Israel would be any softening of Obama’s opposition to Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, which the Palestinian Authority will formally join on April 1. Under a law passed by Congress, any Palestinian bid to bring war crimes charges against Israel at the court will automatically sever America’s $400 million in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, although some experts suggested Obama could find indirect ways to continue some funding — even if only to prevent a dangerous collapse of the Palestinian governing body. [Emphasis added]
That’s right. War crimes. If this is an option that is on the table, the administration can expect a schism between Israel and the United States that might never be fully repaired. Moreover, the decoupling of America’s security concerns from Israel’s might only make Jerusalem revise its approach to diplomatic and national security challenges that could prompt Israel to seek out other great powers to act as the guarantor of its defense.
According to one former Obama advisor responsible for Mideast policy who spoke to Foreign Policy reporters, exposing Israel to the wrath of the United Nations is actually a mercy. Given Israel’s sins, it is the best they can do. What’s more, this might still shield Israel’s leaders from even more dramatic consequences.
Ilan Goldenberg, a former member of the Obama administration’s Mideast peace team, told FP that Washington might be inclined to support a Security Council resolution backing a two-state solution as an alternative to the Palestinian effort to hold Israel accountable at the ICC.
“If it was done, it could protect Israel from a worse outcome,” he said.
Under this scenario, the United States would seek guarantees from the international community to hold off on ICC activity in exchange for a Security Council resolution outlining international standards for a final peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“The Israelis will probably resist and say this is a bad idea, but they could also be convinced that this is better than the alternative,” said Goldenberg.
You see, failing to prevent the United Nations Security Council from compelling a reset of the peace process on terms unfavorable to Israel is a kindness of a sort. In the minds of the West’s betrayed liberals, Israel’s voters have sealed their own fates. They deserve what is coming to them, and more.
Don’t expect the emboldened and freshly legitimized Israeli government to sit around and wait for their punishment to be delivered. It’s wise to anticipate that Netanyahu’s government will plan for its own future security, alone if need be, as that nation has done for decades.