There are indications that a new reality in the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is in the making. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to be losing out to President Obama. Under a re-elected Obama opportunities for Palestinians could return.
Jerome Slater believes that public opinion in the U.S. could be mobilized and a change of U.S. policy brought about by highlighting both sides of the conflict. Veteran Middle East expert Alan Hart sees opportunities for Palestine, too. Hart suggests the discharge of the impotent Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas - whose mandate ended on 9 January 2009 - and the re-establishment of a Palestinian National Council in exile. Having become responsible for the administration of the land it occupies, the occupier can be held to account on international platforms. Hart also suggests for all Palestinians around the world to mobilize. In addition to the 1.5 million in Israel, 2.4 in the West Bank and 1.6 in Gaza, there are 7.5 million Palestinians in the diaspora. Numerically, the total 12.8 million Palestinians have a case that the international community can no longer ignore, says Hart. But in the short term, only the attitude of superpower America, which lends massive military, financial and diplomatic support to Israel, can make the difference.
There are indications that the changed U.S. policy which Slater envisions is emerging. The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported a new reality in the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Following Washington’s decision to postpone joint U.S.-Israeli military exercises this spring, this fall it will only delegate a token minimum of American forces. And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey warned that the United States will not be “complicit” in an Israeli military strike on Iran. The message is: you are on your own. Israel Hayom, the newspaper which is closely linked to the Prime Minister, has already abandoned the war rhetoric against Iran. In their game of bluff, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appear to have overplayed their hand, the newspaper said. Other observers point to the efforts of Netanyahu to outmaneuver the U.S. president and to the consequences a changed U.S. policy would have for the survival of the Netanyahu-administration.
But a real change can come if the U.S. backs off from the Middle East. According to American historican Victor Davis Hanson America is in the midst of the greatest domestic gas and oil revolution since the early 20th century. If even guarded predictions about new North American reserves are accurate, the entire continent may become energy-independent, says Hanson. “Is the US preparing for a post-Israel Middle East?”, law professor Franklin Lamb wonders, referring to a recent analysis commissioned by the U.S. government. The 82-page paper entitled “Preparing For A Post Israel Middle East” reportedly proposes a revision of relations with Israel. The analysis concludes that Israel is currently the greatest threat to US national interests because its nature and actions prevent normal US relations with Arab and Muslim countries and the wider international community.
The indications that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is tilting are strong. Such pivot may gather momentum under a reelected President Obama. The fate of the Palestinians can only benefit from such a development.
A version in Dutch of this article first appeared on De Wereld Morgen and Geopolitiek in perspectief