Daily Israel Report

Prof: Obama's Obsession with Israel Won't End

Former gov’t advisor Prof. Eitan Gilboa says Obama’s setback in the Congressional elections will not end his “obsession” with Israel.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/11/2010, 10:05 AM / Last Update: 11/11/2010, 10:23 AM

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Prof. Eitan Gilboa, a former government advisor and expert in media and administration, says that U.S. President Obama’s setback in the Congressional elections will not end his “obsession” with Israel.

Speaking with Arutz-7, the Bar Ilan University professor said that he does not think Obama will “lay off” Israel in the near future. “I believe he has an obsession with Israel,” Gilboa said. “He will want to get the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority going again because he wants to be remembered in history as the one who is signed on the peace agreement.”

Just this week, Obama criticized Israel for announcing another stage in the approval process of 1,300 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Homa. “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations,” Obama said during a visit to his boyhood home in the Muslim nation of Indonesia. “I'm concerned that we're not seeing each side making the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough.”

Knesset Members from both the coalition and opposition criticized Obama, saying that he is ignoring the reality of Israel’s security and other needs in Jerusalem. Kadima party MK Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shabak, then known as the General Security Service, told the Jerusalem Post that the Americans “understand that there is no chance that Jerusalem will return to the 1967 borders. They also aren’t blind – they know where the municipal borders are drawn, and they also know where our security borders are around the city. But they still don’t know – or don’t understand – that the most sensitive part of the negotiations is Jerusalem. To begin by addressing the most sensitive issue, without establishing any level of trust, is a recipe for failure. The first place to build Israeli trust in the PA was in Gaza, and the first question should be not what happens in Jerusalem, but what happens in Gaza – how we make sure that there is one, and not two Palestinian states… [T]o deal with Jerusalem at the beginning of negotiations is a recipe for failure.”

American Permission Not Necessary
Later on in his interview with Arutz-7, Prof. Gilboa said that a careful reading of the memoirs of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, shows that Israel need not always ask permission from the U.S. before carrying out a particular military action.

“Bush wrote that he was disappointed in [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert’s decision not to attack Syria during the Second Lebanon War,” Gilboa said. “However, he noted that Olmert’s decision to attack the nuclear reactor in Syrian in 2007 was an excellent one, even though the Americans opposed it at first.”

“The American approval, despite its original objections, proves that not always does Israel have to ask permission or coordinate with the United States before a military action,” Gilboa said. He added, however, that there are situations, “such as a future attack on Iran,” in which because of operational and political considerations, “Israel will have to receive a green light from the Americans.”

Gilboa holds a Ph.D. in Administration from Harvard University, and has served as an advisor to the Prime Minister’s Bureau, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry.