Barack Hussein Obama has opined in a New York Times interview that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is too popular with the Israeli public at the moment to make compromises with Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. ‘If he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him…taking on the settler movement,’ Obama said.
INN Asked whether he should be more vigorous in pressing Netanyahu, and the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbasto reach a land-for-peace deal, Obama said that this has to start with them. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “poll numbers are a lot higher than mine” and “were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza,” Obama said. “And so if he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement. That’s a tough thing to do.
With respect to Abbas, it’s a slightly different problem. In some ways, Bibi is too strong [and] in some ways Abbasis too weak to bring them together and make the kinds of bold decisions that Sadat or Begin or Rabin were willing to make. It’s going to require leadership among both the Palestinians and the Israelis to look beyond tomorrow. … And that’s the hardest thing for politicians to do is to take the long view on things.”
Asked if he is worried about Israel’s “long term survivability,” Obama said: “It is amazing to see what Israel has become over the last several decades… Think about the dream of the early Zionists and to have scratched out of rock this incredibly vibrant, incredibly successful, wealthy and powerful country is a testament to the ingenuity, energy and vision of the Jewish people.
“And because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel’s survival.”