Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won over Republicans and Democrats alike on Tuesday, when he delivered a much-anticipated address to a joint session of Congress. He reiterated his insistence that any peace agreement that uses pre-1967 borders as the basis for establishing a Palestinian state would endanger Israel's security. The remark capped a week-long feud with President Obama, who suggested that those pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps, would make a good starting point for renewed talks. Did either side really win in this very public spat?
Obama definitely fared better: The president played his cards well, says Carlo Strenger in Israel's Haaretz. He showed the Arab world he's flexible, by openly advocating a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders. But he put his foot down, too, by rejecting any attempt by the Palestinians to get the United Nations to back a non-negotiated solution. Netanyahu won accolades for a nice speech, but he really just isolated Israel further by "sowing dust in the eyes of well-meaning American friends."
"Netanyahu's win is Israel's loss"
Netanyahu showed he's not one to be messed with: "Let's hope that President Obama has learned a lesson this week," says Alana Goodman at Commentary. "Do not pick unnecessary political fights with Prime Minister Netanyahu." Politicians from both parties cheered in agreement as Bibi explained why Palestinians, not Israelis, are the ones blocking peace. Netanyahu scored a huge public relations victory over the 1967 border controversy, and Obama learned that not even his fellow Democrats will support his "anti-Israel policies."
"Obama's bad bet"
Nobody won this pointless showdown: Bibi gets to boast that "he didn't back down to that nasty Barack Obama," says James Besser at The Jewish Week, and Obama can tell the world he really tried to get the peace process moving again. But really, "everybody emerged as a loser." Obama only fueled skepticism about the prospects of peace, because he didn't back up his rhetoric with a workable plan. And Netanyahu had Congress "cheering him like a rock star," but Obama — the guy he told off — is the one who makes U.S. foreign policy.
"Who won the Netanyahu-Obama showdown? How about 'nobody?'"