I expect the incoming Obama administration to engage in a major effort to persuade Israel to crack down seriously on illegal settlements in the West Bank, and to stop expansion of existing settlements. It could make US-Israeli relations a little rocky at times. But that’s OK with me. The settlement activities add nothing to Israel’s security, often make lives miserable for Palestinians and provide ammunition for those claiming Israel is not serious about a peaceful two-state solution.
But those hoping for (or fearing) a major rift between the US and Israel should heed the words of Susan Rice, Obama’s choice for US ambassador to the United Nations, in testimony at her Senate confirmation hearing.
President-elect Barack Obama’s choice as US envoy to the United Nations told lawmakers Thursday that the UN is often used to “willfully and unfairly condemn Israel.”
Susan Rice added that she will work to strengthen “an indispensable if imperfect” institution so that it can better meet international challenges.
And The New York Times reported:
Ms. Rice herself … brought up Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, noting that the incoming Obama administration was greatly concerned about “the suffering of innocents” and on a broader scale determined to forge ahead with a two-state solution.
“There needs to be a durable cease-fire, but a durable cease-fire has to entail the halt to Hamas rockets against Israel and the Israeli people,” Ms. Rice said. She said those would include effective measures to control weapons smuggling into Gaza and an effective means to control the border.
Once the fighting ended, she said, “We need to mount a swift and robust effort to attend to the dire humanitarian needs inside Gaza.”
It’s no surprise, then, that the regime-backed “Death to [your name here]” crowd in Iran has added Barack Obama to its repertoire.
Since Obama is unlikely to play the role of villain quite so conveniently as Bush did, the mullahs may soon grow nostalgic for Dubya. And as oil prices collapse, the regime will certainly be looking for outside villains to distract the people of Iran from their growing economic misery.
(Hat tip: Adam Holland)