Three newspapers comment on US President Barack Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday in which he – inter alia – stressed the need for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians:
Yediot Aharonot says that, "An American President has never given such a pro-Israel speech at the UN," and adds that, "Not only did Obama adopt all of Israel’s claims against recognizing a Palestinian state through the UN, but he also adopted the basic Israeli narrative: Israel is a small country, surrounded by enemies that desire its destruction, its children are under daily threats, its neighbors educate their children to hate, in addition to threats from its neighbors, it is in existential danger due to the Iranian threat, its people carry on their backs the burden of thousands of years of oppression and exile, as well as the burden of the Holocaust." The authors note that much has changed since President Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009 and his State Department speech in May of this year and add that, "Obama is a politician who wants to be re-elected… This is the time when foreign policy gives way to domestic policy. Palestine is out; American Jewish voters are in." The paper suggests that the President’s speech was, in effect, a response to one given the day before by leading Republican contender Texas Gov. Rick Perry in which the latter criticized White House policy towards Israel as "’naïve, arrogant, mistaken and dangerous’." The authors suggest that, "In practice, the American administration is disengaging from efforts to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, at least until next November if not beyond."
Ma’ariv believes that in the weeks leading up to the opening of the UN General Assembly, "Obama made every effort to persuade Abu Mazen to climb down from the high tree of appealing to the UN Security Council," and adds that, "Abu Mazen was obdurate and rejected every compromise proposal. Netanyahu said yes, perhaps a little late, but better late than never. This is the real reason for Obama’s somewhat pro-Israeli speech."
Yisrael Hayom suggests that President Obama is indeed operating under the weight of election politics and adds that, "Therefore, the Obama of September 2011 resembles more Obama the presidential candidate from 2008 and less his approach and style towards Israel since taking up office. The question is, of course, whether this current approach will not fall by the wayside if Obama wins a second term in November 2012."
Haaretz writes: "On the eve of his departure for the UN General Assembly, whose members are being asked to recognize a Palestinian state in the borders of June 4, 1967, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his trip as an emergency mission to save Israel from a plot to destroy it. This erroneous representation shows that even now, when Israel’s leadership is required to show diplomatic initiative, the prime minister intends to use the international organization’s stage for anachronistic propaganda that bears no relationship to Israel’s most vital interests. The prime minister must therefore kick his addiction to sterile speeches and present a real diplomatic initiative tomorrow – one that will pave the way for negotiations on a final-status agreement with the 194th member of the United Nations."
The Jerusalem Post comments on the damage left by this summer’s social tent protests: The tents "were never legal, yet they were tolerated as few such demonstrative exercises are likely to be. It was only a matter of time before [Tel Aviv mayor] Huldai was forced to act. Local taxpayers will have to cover hefty rehabilitation costs following this summer’s social protests. The irony is that the overwhelming majority of them belong to the very middle class in whose name the protests were purportedly mounted."
[Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shefer, Ben-Dror Yemini and Prof. Avraham Ben-Zvi wrote today’s articles in Yediot Aharonot, Ma’ariv and Yisrael Hayom, respectively.]