As the Obama Administration pushes ahead with Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, Israel is being wooed with sweeteners like money for missile defense against Hamas and Hizballah rocket attacks and admission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
On Monday, the OECD (an association of democracies that encourages international trade) voted unanimously to admit Israel, rejecting efforts by the Palestinian Authority to deny membership to the Jewish State.
Ha'aretz correspondent Aluf Benn wrote that until the OECD vote, "only [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu had given and given" to facilitate recent U.S.-led peace efforts:
"He agreed to as Palestinian state, a freeze on settlement construction and an undeclared construction freeze in East Jerusalem. Now he's also receiving. 'The world' rejected the Palestinian demand to leave Israel outside the organization and use acceptance as a bargaining chip to end the occupation of the West Bank."
Israel's admission to the OECD is just one recent example of the administration's efforts "to shower Israel with shows of affection, the likes of which haven't been seen for some time," Benn wrote Thursday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak received red-carpet treatment during a recent visit to Washington (a sharp contrast to the reception Netanyahu received from Obama in March.)
Administration speeches today are full of language about the American commitment to Israel's security, and talks about the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are expected to conclude shortly with language that will leave the Israeli policy of "ambiguity" about its weapons arsenal unchanged.
But the change in tone does not mean that the substance of Obama's approach has changed. Obama is "tired" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Benn wrote, and "the world is fed up with this nuisance, and he wants to put an end to it. Or at least achieve an accord that eluded his predecessors."
The problem is that, by summer's end, both the proximity talks and the settlement freeze will expire. The U.N. General Assembly will convene in New York and the Obama Administration will attempt to mobilize international support for an Iran sanctions package. Obama will want the settlement freeze extended, but Netanyahu may not be in a political position to do so.
According to Benn, there are two major camps in the Israeli government: One, including Barak and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, are suggesting that Israel advance a proposal to establish a Palestinian state with temporary borders. A second faction, which reportedly includes Netanyahu's political adviser Ron Dermer and more hawkish members of the prime minister's coalition, believes Israel would benefit by waiting until after the November elections, believing that Obama will be politically weakened and less likely to try to pressure Israel for new concessions.