Israelis Look For Hope In Washington

As it happens, I am in Israel this week.  And in Israel, all eyes are on Washington, D.C. as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Obama White House for the first time.  The meeting, however, has the potential to be somewhat awkward the Israeli Prime Minister has yet to endorse the “two state” solution. 

Scanning the Israeli press today it is stricking to see the degree to which Israelis are depending on Obama to press Netanyahu to once and for all endorse a two-state solution.  For a good chunk of the Israeli body politic, all hope lies with Obama.  Ha’aretz has a three-fer of editorials today which all reinforce this same point.

  The lead editorial in Ha’Aretz advises Bibi to “say ‘yes’ to Obama:”

Now Netanyahu must show he can set aside his ideological opposition to dividing the country and support for expanding settlements and, for the good of the state, strengthen relations with the United States and advance the peace process with the Palestinians and the Arab states.

The Israeli public expects him to adjust his political stances to international reality.

Gideon Levy calls for a “political U-turn by the prime minister,” and see’s the American president as Israel’s “final hope.”

Obama is the final hope: Only if he throws his entire weight into the process will anything in the Middle East start moving. Any American president could have long ago brought about substantial progress, first and foremost ending the intolerable Israeli occupation. But Obama’s predecessors shrank from the task, preferring to yield to the Jewish and Christian lobbies and to engage in masquerades of negotiations leading nowhere.

And Zvi Bar’el says an endorsement of a two state solution

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lands in Washington Sunday, he brings a valuable gift for U.S. President Barack Obama: new U.S. legitimacy in the Middle East. If Netanyahu says the right password at the White House gates – “two states for two peoples” – Obama will have his first Israeli political achievement. Then there will be no escaping attributing this ideological compromise to American pressure on Israel.

Bottom line: A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, President Obama