How not to win friends


Publicado originalmente em: Mar 28th 2015 | JERUSALEM AND RAMALLAH

BARELY a day has gone by since the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, won re-election on March 17th without one senior American official or another chastising him in public. On March 23rd officials leaked word claiming Israel had spied on America’s talks with Iran. A day later President Barack Obama himself referred to a “knotty policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and the region.”

Senior figures in Mr Netanyahu’s circle think this is all a ploy to weaken the prime minister’s efforts to influence the talks over a nuclear deal with Iran. The view is that Mr Obama is resolved to reach a rapprochement with Iran, and that he sees Mr Netanyahu and his Republican allies in Congress as the main obstacles. Mr Netanyahu, about to begin his fourth term as prime minister, resolutely opposes what he calls a “bad deal”, even if that damages relations with the White House.

Israeli officials think the talks in Lausanne will result in a general outline of an agreement. That could allow the negotiations to continue until June to finalise the details. Meanwhile they have largely given up on trying to convince the administration to drive a tougher deal. Instead, they and the Saudis are trying to stiffen the positions of the British and French.

Pressure is also mounting on Israel over the establishment of a Palestinian state. Earlier this month the central committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, recommended that security co-operation with Israel be halted. Similar threats have been made in the past but never fulfilled. This time, insists Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, “it’s really happening. We’re not going back. We’re not playing games.”

On April 1st the Palestinians will become members of the International Criminal Court, where they hope to see Israel in the dock for alleged war crimes committed during last year’s Gaza war, and for settlement-building in the West Bank.

For Mr Netanyahu this means fighting on two separate diplomatic fronts before he has even sworn-in his new government. “Bibi is counting down the days before Obama leaves the White House” says one adviser. “These are going to be twenty-two long months.”

Fonte: The Economist

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