Saturday, February 19, 2011

Three questions for Marwan Bishara

Our senior political analyst on US decision to veto UNSC draft resolution condemning Israel's illegal settlements.

Marwan Bishara


Does the US veto risk a backlash in the Arab world?

Washington's refusal to join the international community in affirming the applicability of international law in Palestine, could further alienate an Arab world already in turmoil.

In fact, it could add fuel to Arab anger and deepen disappointment at those crucial times.

But the Obama administration has been carefully balancing its options between angering Palestinians and Arabs or alienating Israel and pro-Israeli groups in the US.

Good to his reputation, the pragmatic president has opted for appeasing Israel and its friends.

When weighing in the costs and benefits of supporting such a resolution, the Obama administration seems to have concluded that angering Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, pales in comparison to angering Israeli premier Netanyahu and his allies in Washington and in Congress.

It's possible that Netanyahu will reciprocate by offering Obama a tactical compromise to ease the international pressure on both of their countries.

Whether this is in the US national interest or simply in the interests of politics as usual in Washington remains to be seen.

It's clear, however, that neither the Obama administration nor Congress have internalised the historical transformation sweeping through the Arab region.

Rather, it continues to deal with the Arabs and Palestinians with the same imperial mindset that long managed its relations with self-serving Arab dictators and clients, as if nothing has changed in the region."

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