Eye on the Middle East Jul/Aug 2010

A recent Arutz-7 headline read, “Ex-US Envoy Indyk: Bibi’s Refusal to Obama ‘Threatens Alliance.’” Martin Indyk apparently has left Israelis wondering just how much is actually at stake in Israel’s decision to grant permission to build a number of apartments within the city of Jerusalem.

“Netanyahu,” said Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, “must make a choice: take on the president of the United States, or take on his right wing.” Wrote Indyk: “If he continues to defer to those ministers in his cabinet who oppose peacemaking, the consequences for U.S.-Israel relations could be dire.”

Knesset member Yaacov Katz, reported Arutz-7, responded by saying Indyk is “totally disconnected from the U.S. Congressional majority that [acknowledges] Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and has the democratic right to build in all of its neighborhoods.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has said the area in question is totally Jewish and would belong to Israel in any peace settlement. It is a continuing fact of political life that both houses of Congress have overwhelmingly confirmed Israel’s right to Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state. And it has repeatedly voted for the Embassy of the United States to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, even though every president has refused to do so.

Furthermore, Indyk, along with other members of the Obama administration, has either asserted or implied that the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East is Israel’s refusal to forfeit the right to build in Jerusalem.

Reported Arutz-7: “The former envoy reasoned, ‘Nothing could better help Obama to isolate Iran than for Netanyahu to offer to cede the Golan [Heights]. Given Israel’s dependence on the United States to counter the threat from Iran and to prevent its own international isolation, an Israeli prime minister would surely want to bridge the growing divide.’”

The news service said Indyk failed to mention the thousands of rockets and mortar shells Hamas has rained down on Israel following the expulsion of Jewish residents and military forces from Gaza. Indyk was also silent concerning the unyielding refusal of Palestinians and militant Islamists to recognize Israel’s right to exist in the Middle East.

Arutz-7 said Indyk “castigated” Netanyahu in The New York Times and on Israel’s IDF Army Radio, “saying the prime minister prefers a nationalist government over being friends with the United States.” But in whose interest, exactly, should any prime minister of a sovereign nation act? In the interest of his own country or someone else’s? And how can one country tell another, “You do what we say or we won’t be friends”?

Israel never agreed, nor was ever asked, to refrain from building within the city limits of Jerusalem. This entire controversy is the concoction of a U.S. administration that calculatedly decided to create the issue and announce that Israel has stymied the entire Middle East peace process by granting building permits. Delighted, the Arabs viewed the confrontation as a gift they hadn’t even asked for or expected.

Most Israelis understand what is at stake: the Palestinian and Arab worlds want “peace” with Israel only by taking it “one piece at a time.”

Make no mistake: the Congress of the United States is right on this one. Jerusalem is the eternal city of the Jewish people by divine right. And Yaakov Katz was correct when he said, “We survived Pharaoh, and we will survive Indyk.”

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