ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Israel's Scowling Petulance

How much longer can the tail wag the dog?

There were no standing ovations when United States President Barack Obama addressed the annual conclave of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington DC last month. The atmosphere was formal and parts of his speech were met with what was described as “stony silence”. Shortly afterwards, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu rounded off a visit to the US that was, behind the pretence of undying mutual love, all frayed tempers and defiance. His final act, an address to the US Congress, had the more assiduous record-keepers counting 29 standing ovations. There was a signal there: he had scored one more than Obama did during his last State of the Union address before the same legislative body.

An “ambush” is how Obama’s major speech, delivered just ahead of Netanyahu’s visit, was described in the Zionist press. Netanyahu had been outmanoeuvred and outflanked when Ariel Sharon, his bitter rival for prime ministership and the title of Zionist champion, had vacated the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip in 2005. Prior to this, Sharon had exchanged letters with George W Bush, then US president, to make it official policy that Israel could – in exchange for the Gaza withdrawal – unilaterally define its borders with a putative Palestinian state in the West Bank.

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