Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama Stands Up to Netanyahu

I haven't always been the proudest of our current President. True, I'm glad that our country isn't run by complete sociopaths anymore, but in many ways President Obama has been a continuation of more of the same. However, it looks like the President is starting to finally move executive U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict away from the hard, far-right line it has taken in past years.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday opened his deepest foray into the Middle East quagmire, telling Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu he must stop Jewish settlements and should grasp a "historic opportunity" to make peace with the Palestinians.

The settlements have been a pivotal issue of negotiation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. See, while Israel did evacuate from Gaza, at the same time it seized more land in the West Bank than it even gave up (returned to their owners) in Gaza, meaning they effectively expanded their occupation rather than drawing back (Gaza and the West Bank are a unit).

The settlements cut deep into Palestinian territory, require the demolition of Palestinian homes and orchards, and generally make the West Bank unlivable for Palestinians as a handful of settlers using exclusive roads, water, infrastructure, and general land have to be protected by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Prime Minister Netanyahu campaigned vigorously for actually expanding the settlements in the West Bank territories, meaning that Obama must be ready to apply direct political pressure to Netanyahu -- like reminding him we are Israel's largest benefactor -- in order to actually get results from his words.