The do-over White House get-together between Obama and Bibi is set for today. The White House is strenuously denying that there has been any “rift” between the two countries. (But will it admit to a “shift,” as Michael Oren called it?) So there will be smiles and cameras — but what will change?
There are many ways in which the relationship can be repaired and in which Obama can rescue his Middle East policy from disarray. First, rule out any international investigation of the flotilla incident; Israel is a functioning democracy and can look after itself. Second, pull out of the UN Human Rights Council (in an op-ed, Min. Whip Eric Cantor and Rep. Peter Roskam call for that — but, alas, the letter to the president following the flotilla incident, which the AIPAC backed, left that request out). Third, insist that the PA meet face to face with Bibi, and refuse to do the Palestinians’ negotiating for them through proximity talks. Fourth, affirm that a nuclear-armed Iran will be prevented by American military action, if it comes to that. Fifth, confirm that Israel has the right to self-defense and the right to maintain a naval blockade, and that attempts by “activists” and/or state sponsors to break it are acts of aggression, which Israel, with the full support of the U.S., is entitled to counter.
These items would repair the actual rift between the two countries, which is grounded not in conflicting personalities but rather in differences in outlook and vision. You say Obama can’t do any of these things? Of course not; there is a chasm between the two governments that nothing short of a full-scale policy reversal or the 2012 election will resolve. Yeah, it’s going to have to be the latter.