Commentary Magazine


Does Obama Favor Regime Change?

One might be tempted to dismiss Israeli talk that the Obama administration is trying to bring down the Netanyahu government. However, when Robert Kagan reaches the same conclusion using sheer logic, the case seems perfectly sensible. The Obama team, he reminds readers, is pressuring Israel while trying to accommodate Iran: “This sets up quite an image: Unclench the fist at a government that daily calls us the Great Satan, while balling up a fist at a longtime ally.”

So what is the administration trying to achieve?

There must be a brilliant strategy in here somewhere. But from the outside, it isn’t obvious where the confrontation with Israel is supposed to lead… it is questionable whether any Israeli government could [freeze natural growth in settlements]. Perhaps the Obama administration is trying to bring the Netanyahu government down. Regime change!

Maybe Defense Minister Ehud Barak can help the administration understand that its strategy is bound to fail. Maybe his “surprise” meeting with the president is the beginning of the end of this public brawl:

During the meeting Barak presented Jerusalem’s position, whereby Israel is willing to remove 22 out of the 26 illegal outposts established in the West Bank after March 2001. The defense minister urged the US administration to reexamine the demand to freeze construction in settlements and settlement blocs that may remain in Israel’s hands as part of a future peace agreement.

This is not Netanyahu talking. It is the man sitting in Yitzhak Rabin’s chair as the head of the Labor Party.