So now we have the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, presumably based on conversation(s) with officials of the Obama administration, perhaps with the president himself, quoting Obama: “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” And then, with “each new settlement announcement Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.”
Needless to say, Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the report testily. An aide said that Netanyahu would “continue to resist pressure from America and other countries” and would “make no compromise that will harm its citizens’ security.” Netanyahu himself responded trenchantly: “I think that President Obama knows that the ones determining Israel’s vital interests are the citizens of Israel, and they will be the ones to choose who will protect those interests in the best possible way.”
And how does the prime minister define Israel’s interests? In an interview with Israel Hayom in the wake of the Goldberg column, he cites three main objectives: “Preventing Iran from arming themselves with nuclear weapons, not going back to the indefensible 1967 borders, and keeping Jerusalem united. These are fundamental objectives.”
We learn as much from what the prime minister failed to say as from what he did say. He failed to say anything about a two-state solution. And the reason for that is clear: He is opposed to a two-state solution — that is, to a two-state solution that allows for a viable Palestinian state with contiguous territory.
And, as The Economist recently observed, “A growing number of Israeli politicians on the right argue that if Israel ‘stands firm,’ Western governments will quietly acquiesce in the Palestinians’ failure to get a proper state, just as most Basques and Kurds have had to make do with autonomy at best rather than outright independence.”