Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

JERUSALEM OR JERICHO? | March 24, 2010

“The gates of Jericho were shut tight and guarded closely because of the people of Israel. No one went out. No one came in …. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua. He said, “I have handed Jericho over to you. I have also handed its king and its fighting men over to you …..” – Joshua 6:1-2

Netanyahu’s rabid defence of Israeli rights over Jerusalem in his lightning visit to Washington D.C., remind me of Jericho and its walls.

His stubborn stance before the most powerful President of the world could be compared to Joshua’s 7-day chants around Jericho following Jehovah’s instructions.

Does he expect the walls of U.S. power to crumble down before his eyes?

Israeli’s hawk prime minister exercises his knowledge of U.S. negotiating habits in his stints as a student in said country but he may err with such tactical moves before a totally different player at the table. Barack Obama is not a standardised American political leader that may well have some surprises in store for the arrogant Jewish visitor. In the first place, no official picture was taken of this interview nor was a White House press release issued.

Netanyahu has overestimated his capability to pressure the Obama Administration, moreover after the diplomatic mess during the U.S. Vice-President’s recent visit to Israel. The provocation of the new constructions in East Jerusalem may well work against the Israelis, and the crumbling walls turn to be those of proud & arrogant Jewish Jerusalem.

No single democratic state considers Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and all embassies & legations are based in Tel-Aviv. Netanyahu’s speech before Jewish Americans just before the White House encounter was a clear provocation that President Obama was surely not willing to ignore. The pulse is on. Even allies quarrel but no small-fry state should risk the anger of its firmest sponsor.

This rather unintelligent posture has already caused a decline of Netanyahu´s popularity not only in Israel but also strengthened the EU’s rejection of the Israeli arguments to stall the recognition of a Palestinian state. If now, the Obama Administration leaves Israel on its own in its border conflicts with other Middle East powers, Israel may find itself in a true dilemma. It may be best for Israel to agree to play with a fresh deck that avoids turning Jerusalem into a 21st. century Jericho.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


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