RSS
Israel's isolation: Whose fault is it?
With a contentious U.N. debate on Palestinian statehood looming, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be feeling lonely this week
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be partially to blame for his nation's increasing isolation, but others say President Obama is at fault, too.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be partially to blame for his nation's increasing isolation, but others say President Obama is at fault, too.
Ariel Schalit/Xinhua Press/Corbis
I

srael seems to be feeling awfully lonely these days. For starters, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is grabbing headlines — and international support — with his contentious plan to ask the United Nations this week to recognize Palestinian statehood. (President Obama is threatening a U.S. veto in the event of a Security Council vote, though the Palestinians could still push the "Vatican option" — a vote before the veto-less General Assembly that would make Palestine a permanent non-member state, like the Holy See.) Regardless of the outcome, the high-stakes showdown over Palestinian statehood is shining a light on international impatience with Mideast peace talks, and the whole spectacle threatens to worsen Israel's already fraying relations with Turkey and Egypt, rare allies in the Muslim world. Who's to blame for Israel suddenly feeling so isolated?

1. Arabs: Israel's enemies want to destroy it.
By going to the U.N., the Palestinians have violated a commitment they made in 1993 to create a future state through direct negotiations, says Cal Thomas in the Washington Examiner. But now "Israel — like the Jewish people for centuries — has become the fall guy for people who prefer their anti-Semitism cloaked in diplomatic niceties. The Palestinians could have peace any time they wish and probably a state, too, if they acknowledged Israel's right to exist." The U.N. will have "the blood of the Jewish people" on its hands if it empowers nations determined to create "a 'Palestine' without Jews."

2. President Obama: His Mideast policy left Israel in the cold.
"President Obama's approach to Israel is becoming toxic," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. He pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a corner by "ambushing the Israelis with an inflammatory statement on the '1967 borders' (itself a misnomer intended to put the Israelis on the defensive)." And he swallowed "Palestinian propaganda hook, line, and sinker" by backing the idea that a halt to the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank was necessary to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Israelis "by a huge majority distrust him and view him as pro-Palestinian," and there's little chance "that Israeli-U.S. relations will be mended entirely until there is a new president."

3. Israel: This is a completely self-inflicted wound.
If Netanyahu had picked up negotiations where they left off with his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, the Israelis and Palestinians might have struck a peace deal by now, says Peter Beinart at The Daily Beast. Abbas had already agreed to a non-militarized Palestinian state, continued Israeli control of East Jerusalem, and the return of just a "symbolic number" of Palestinian refugees to Israel. But Netanyahu "insisted that Israel could never relinquish any part of Jerusalem or admit even a single refugee." Obama simply tried to revive talks "based on the 1967 borders plus land swaps," the foundation of the Olmer-Abbas discussions. When Netanyahu "loudly rejected" the idea, he set his country on a direct course toward isolation. 

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week