Gideon Rauchman watches the friend of Israel at his work: "if Israel does not take [the road Obama offers] soon, the long-term survival of the Jewish state will be imperilled..."
Israel’s fear and loathing of Obama: I could not help thinking back to the early stages of the Northern Irish peace negotiations.... The Israelis’ furious reaction to the pressure they are under from the Obama administration is reminiscent of the British rage early in the Northern Irish peace process, when it became clear that our American allies were intent on “talking to the terrorists” of the Irish Republican Army. But, as it turned out, the Americans were right to insist that there was a peace deal to be made with the IRA. They are right again on the Middle East peace process. There is still a deal to be had – and if Israel does not take it soon, the long-term survival of the Jewish state will be imperilled.
In their more reflective moments, some senior Israeli politicians will acknowledge that a two-state solution is as vital for Israel as it is for the Palestinians. Dividing the land is the only way of ensuring that Israel remains both Jewish and democratic.... Yet for all their long-term concerns, the Israelis have failed to make vital concessions, because the status quo still feels more comfortable.... By contrast, calling a complete halt to illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land – as Mr Obama has demanded – entails risks and pain. There are members of the Israeli cabinet who still cling to the idea of a Greater Israel, incorporating all of the West Bank. If Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, delivered the settlement freeze the Americans want, his rightwing coalition would probably collapse. Many Israelis also worry that an eventual move to uproot at least 80,000 settlers as part of a peace deal could lead to a revolt in the army – some 30 per cent of whose officers are religious conservatives, presumed to be sympathetic to the settlers.... So rather than discuss settlements, the Israelis are desperately trying to change the subject. They point out that there are many obstacles to a peace deal other than the settlements....
The Israelis are certainly right to argue that there is no guarantee that a freeze on settlements will lead to a peace deal. On the other hand, there certainly is a guarantee that a continued expansion of settlements will ensure that no peace deal is ever possible.... [N]o special explanation should be needed for Mr Obama’s insistence on a settlement freeze. Such a policy is in the interests of Israel as well as the Palestinians. Israelis may fear and even detest Mr Obama – but the American president is actually doing them a favour.