Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is learning the hard way that disrespecting our president only gets you a giant middle finger.
Last week, President Obama made it clear that his administration is re-evaluating the relationship between the US government and Israel, even going so far as considering a United Nations resolution recognizing Palestine as a state.
The remarks were a clear rebuke of Netanyahu’s election victory in Israel, his statement in opposition of the two-state solution, and of his disrespect of President Obama earlier this month when Bibi spoke to Congress in an effort to sabotage diplomatic talks with Iran.
Netanyahu probably hoped the Obama Administration would forgive and forget the whole thing and resume normal relations. If so, he was sorely mistaken.
During a speech at the J Street Conference in Washington DC on Monday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough doubled down on international support for the two-state solution and blasted 50 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people and their territory.
“We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made,” McDonough said to an enthusiastic audience. “Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
McDonough repeated White House support of a “sovereign and sustainable” Palestinian state based on the 1967 border lines and warned Israel that any further land grabs of Palestinian territory “would be both wrong and illegal” and would be challenged by the United States.
As predicted, Netanyahu has only made things worse between the United States and Israel and the relationship doesn’t appear to be healing any time soon. If anything, it looks like President Obama and his team are moving forward with their plan for peace in the Middle East without Israel.
And you know what? That’s probably the best idea. For decades, peace in the region has repeatedly escaped the world’s grasp. And Israel, especially under Netanyahu’s leadership, has made it difficult to reach agreements. Perhaps not giving Israel a seat at the table will make a deal much more attainable.
And if Netanyahu and the Israelis don’t like it, they have only themselves to blame. Because the current way they are acting is only costing them respect and friends their small country can’t afford to lose.