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We shall have to wait to learn what sort of a coalition Netanyahu can cobble together. Whatever the result, it is hard to imagine a government that will last the full four year term. And it remains impossible to imagine Netanyahu suddenly becoming an advocate — a serious and not merely occasional and rhetorical — advocate of a two-state solution, let alone of a genuine two-state solution. For while he doubtless sees himself as a man of the West, his heart, like Yehuda Halevi’s, is in the East. That is, the land between the Jordan River and the Green Line, the land known as the West Bank, which lies to Israel’s east — or, to use Netanyahu’s terms for that land, Yehuda and Shomron.
Will John Kerry, presuming he is confirmed as our next Secretary of State, spend valuable time on what appears so intractable a problem? We know that he is planning an early trip to Israel, but it is not as if his plate will not be full with other pressing matters. A quick trip is not a substitute for sustained diplomacy. At the same time, the American view is that resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict is essential to quieting the Middle East, especially that now it has become so volatile an area. At the least, resolving the conflict is a necessary condition, even if it is not necessarily sufficient. What, then, to do? Where to begin, how to continue?
There is every reason to believe that Kerry is of the same view as Obama: Netanyahu himself misunderstands Israel’s key interests. But what one does with that view is, to put it mildly, problematic. The United States believes (as do at least some of the European nations) that the prospect of a two-state solution is rapidly — I search here for the right word, and to my great regret, can do no better than — “dying.”
Read the riot act to Israel? Exceedingly unlikely, for a dozen reasons. (Israel’s ardent constituency in this country is only one of them.) The US may, in fact does, lament Israel’s course. But it will not curtail intelligence cooperation, military aid, or any of the other bonds that connect the two nations. The only imaginable expression of America’s exasperation with Israel’s policies and behavior, one that would surely rock the relationship, would be America’s withdrawal of its blanket support for Israel at the United Nations.
A new secretary of state is hardly likely to go there, to spend the personal and political capital such an action would involve.
Ergo: Status quo, marked by accelerating storms.