BARACK vs BIBI: THE PARAMETERS OF TERRORISM
By Micah Halpern
Monday April 13, 2009
Israel and the United States are on a collision course.
The issue they are colliding over is world terror.
When it comes to terror, either you are against it, or you are a terrorist. The disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington is not over the definition of terror, it is over the parameters of terrorism.
Barack Obama and Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu, both newly elected, are out to strut their stuff - in front of their respective countrymen and in front of the world. This collision course is premeditated, it is about perspective. Given the personalities and public flair of these two men, the clash between their administrations was predictable.
Obama and Netanyahu need to collide in order to clearly define the red lines of each of their new administrations. The purpose of this deliberate sparring match is for each leader to discover how far the other will go in order to pursue his country's new Middle East policy.
Fear not, this collision will not shake the foundation of the strong, vibrant and important relationship between the two countries. That relationship is built on a mutuality of interests and in the end the friends will, as the children's song goes, shake hands and make amends. But it will be heated and it will impact on the relationship not of the countries, but personally, on the relationship of the two men.
The new Obama-led administration wants to insist on enforcing the principles laid down in Annapolis almost two years ago during the previous administration. The United States wants to make certain that the Palestinians uphold the stipulations of the Road Map developed by the Bush Administration.
That plan includes a two state solution.
The even newer Netanyahu-led administration refuses to embrace Annapolis. Israel has asked for new ideas to solve the current logger jam. Israel has carefully and delicately done a diplomatic tiptoe around the famed two state solution.
The collision is being played out in the press and on the Hill.
Obama's team has already begun to brief Congress about their new plan and the need to hold Israel to the Road Map. The Obama team is promising continued support for Israel and is emphasizing the need to continue to defend Israel. But they also want the Palestinian track to be put on high speed.
Netanyahu's team knows how to use Congress, as well. Their plan will be to set up numerous face-to-face meetings with Congressional leaders with the intention of sabotaging Obama's objectives.
Obama has tried to outsmart Netanyahu by being the first to approach Congress. Netanyahu will be making his first trip to Washington as new Israeli prime minister next month. Bibi will be forced to play catch up, but Bibi is no newcomer at this game. Unlike Obama, Netanyahu is on his second go round in office.
The Israelis will come calling on Capitol Hill with three cards in their pocket, three critical cards that will be difficult for the Obama people to refute.
Card #1 - The Palestinians have never been able to deliver on any significant agreement that included reigning in terror and confronting Hamas.
Card #2 - The plan that the Obama administration is presenting is a replica of the Bush plan with only a few minor revisions. It is a plan that has failed and will fail again.
Card #3 - Iran is spinning out of control. The Obama plan lacks real substance and is Pollyanna-ish at best and extremely dangerous at worse when it comes to Iran. It is one thing to play roulette with Israel's security vis a vis Iran, but the new president is also playing with the security of the United States.
Israel's messages will resonate loud and clear with the leaders on the Hill. Obama's bonafides are in serious question and Bibi Netanyahu can be very convincing and very compelling when he speaks about threats to Israel's very existence,
Even, especially, as the United States is stretching out both arms to Iran, Iran has become more and more involved in political acts that are destabilizing Arab world friends of the United States.
Egypt recently arrested almost one hundred terrorists connected to Hezbollah who, most importantly, are connected through Iran. The Egyptians have blamed Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah for the new terror infrastructure that they have uncovered.
A Kuwaiti newspaper called al Jarida recently wrote that the Egyptians have arrested Sami Shahib an Egyptian trained in Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. From Iran he was sent to Egypt to organize a Shiite underground terrorist organization which would destabilize Egypt.
An Egyptian newspaper called al Ghoumhouria wrote the following about Nasrallah in an editorial: "We do not allow you, monkey sheikh, to mock our judiciary, for you are a bandit and veteran criminal who killed your countrymen, but we will not allow you to threaten the security and safety of Egypt ... and if you threaten its sovereignty, you will burn!"
Egypt is taking this very seriously.
Netanyahu will make certain that Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill take it seriously as well. He will let it be known full well that by supporting President Obama's new policy they are, albeit inadvertently but certainly definitely, destabilizing both United States interests and United States control in the world.
There will be a collision. Don't expect a big bang, but be ready for some fireworks.
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