Monday, April 05, 2010

Ephraim Sneh thinks Israel should suspend building settlements

Remember the guy who in October 2009 predicted an Israeli strike on Iran before Christmas (December 2009)?

That was Ephraim Sneh and he's come up with a new prediction: There will be either crippling sanctions against Iran or an Israeli strike by November 2010.
For practical reasons, in the absence of genuine sanctions, Israel will not be able to wait until the end of next winter, which means it would have to act around the congressional elections in November, thereby sealing Obama's fate as president.
I don't know if anyone takes him seriously. I don't. There are a whole lot of things wrong with his assessment, especially that post-healthcare Obama can be hurt politically by anything Israel does. But besides the imminent attack on Iran that Israel will launch this year, he sees a break between Israel and the United States as having potential consequences for Iran that seems to be underestimated in Israel.

Settlements really do not matter one way or another. If Israel does suspend, and Abbas goes to a negotiating table what is produced will at least be an insult to the Palestinians who would be less sovereign than Native Americans on US reservations or the Bantustans that were offered to Black South Africans by the supporters of Apartheid, and still, even with that, they may also be enough that they increase the Palestinian threat to the viability of Israel as a Jewish state.

Abbas will not be able to get the Palestinian people endorse such an agreement under anything like a non-coerced vote and we'll be where we are now, except time will have passed. If Palestinians are coerced to accept it, the acceptance will not be either legitimate or honored regionally. It will not improve Israel's situation, nor will it reduce the burden Israel puts on the United States.

On the other hand, the idea that Sneh captures is that the worst thing that Israel can have now is a generation of White House staffers developing their careers in an environment where Israel is spoken of in negative terms. When young staffers reach positions of authority, if they have not been ingrained with the idea that US support for Israel must not be questioned, then the questions they ask later will be devastating to Israel. For that reason, a dispute over a symbolic measure can in the future have very real and serious consequences far more important than any suspension of building or even than all the settlements put together.

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