Netanyahu, The Magician, Now You See It, Now, Don’t

It increasingly becomes clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to cast his future with the right wing of Israel even if it means conflict with the United States. His current Cabinet is a coalition of conservative and religious groups whose vision of Israel is that it should extend from the sea to wherever it can go. A few people from the Labor party are in the Cabinet, but most likely they will be dumped in favor of even more representatives from parties like Yisrael, Shas, Likud and Beiteinu. Netanyahu is willing to gamble that by refusing to budge one inch, it will force Barack Obama to defy Israel and risk losing Jewish voters this fall to the Republican party. If Republicans win in the fall, it strengthens Netanyahu and dooms any hope of compromise with Palestinians.

The question is what can President Obama do about this gamble? So far, he is sending mixed signals. A recent article by his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel was pro-Israel while an article by George Mitchell’s adviser, Martin Indyk was hostile to Israel. If Obama fails to take a strong stand with Netanyahu he dooms hope of peace. Obama must also gamble that Netanyahu can not defy America and survive.

Who blinks first is the question?