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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/4/15

US loses its grip on Israel and Palestinians

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And second, Netanyahu believes he can use the Congress to stymie any threat of an agreement between Washington and Tehran. His working assumption is that the Congress is "Israeli-occupied territory," as a US observer once called it.

Certainly, Israel has enormous sway in the Congress, but Netanyahu is already getting a lesson in the limits of his influence when up against a cornered US president.

Leading Democrats, it seems, are choosing to side with Obama. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, has already warned that many Democrats may boycott Netanyahu's speech. Others may attend but sit on their hands rather than join in the rapturous applause he received last time he addressed Congress.

And here is one of the several warning signs Netanyahu has adamantly refused to heed.

His -- and Israel's -- influence in the US depends on its bipartisan nature. By taking on the president, Netanyahu risks smashing apart Washington's political consensus on Israel and exposing the American public for the first time to a debate about whether Israeli interests coincide with US ones.

The very rift he is fostering with Obama is likely to rebound on him strategically too. He is giving Tehran every incentive to sign an accord with the western powers, if only to deepen the fracturing relationship between Israel and Washington.

Meanwhile, the ICC has preferred to initiate an investigation itself against Israel for war crimes, even before the Palestinians' accession, rather than wait for the threats of retaliation from Israel and the White House to escalate.

What the unraveling of the triangular relationship has achieved -- stoked by Netanyahu's intransigence towards the Palestinians and insolence towards the US -- is an opening up of diplomatic wriggle room.

Others states, from Europe to Russia, China and Iran, and international bodies such as the ICC, will fill the void left by Washington's diminishing credibility and start to shape perceptions about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

That could yet have unpredictable -- and dangerous -- consequences for Israel.
A version of this article first appeared in The National

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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