Poll: 'No' to ‘Obama Solution'

Obama admits he can’t force peace on PA and Israel as poll shows solid opposition to an imposed peace. A shift in gears or calm before the storm?

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 1:34 PM

Netanyahu and Obama last year
Netanyahu and Obama last year
Israel news photo: White House

U.S. President Barack Obama surprisingly expressed pessimism on the "diplomatic process” and said he cannot force an agreement on the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Simultaneously, a new poll in Israel shows solid Israeli opposition to an imposed agreement, division of Jerusalem and relying on American guarantees that the Palestinian Authority will be unarmed.

Israeli Jews overwhelmingly oppose, by a 83-8 percent margin, an imposed peace, according to the poll, conducted by Brain Base (Maagar Mohot) for Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA).

The results also pull out the rug from any possible intentions by the Obama administration to try to topple the Netanyahu government in favor of a Kadima-Labor coalition. It shows strong support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s opposition to President Obama’s demands to stop building for Jews in Jerusalem.

Seventy percent of the respondents said that Prime Minister Netanyahu should not agree to American demands to indefinitely stop building for Jews in parts of Jerusalem that the United States does not recognize as being under Israeli sovereignty.

More significantly, respondents who intend to vote for Labor and Kadima were split 40-40 on the issue of a building freeze, with the remainder on the fence. A building freeze not being backed by even a majority among supporters from the less nationalist parties gives the American government little hope for a change in Israeli policies.

Among those who would vote for the Likud and other parties that are considered relatively on the right wing, an overwhelming majority backs Prime Minister Netanyahu and rejects the demand for a freeze.

President Obama’s sudden shift to low gear is uncharacteristic for the American government, which always has expressed optimism for the “diplomatic process,” which officials hardly ever refer to anymore as the “peace process.”

Attempts to resume talks, even on an indirect basis with the United States as mediator, have faltered due to escalating demands by the PA, rejected by the Israeli government. President Obama said Tuesday, “The PA and Israel "may say to themselves, 'We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,'" adding that it is possible that peace cannot be reached "even if we are applying all of our political capital.”

His comments essentially eliminated, at least for now, the chance that his administration would come up with a peace plan of its own and present a “take it or leave it” offer. However, his government previously has agreed to make more demands on Israel after having stated it would not so, and the president may be playing for time before shifting gears again.

Backing up the president’s stated low expectations was General David Petraeus, who was misquoted several weeks ago for allegedly saying the failure of a PA-Israeli agreement risks the lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he does not blame Israel for the failure to reach an agreement.

President Obama spoke to reporters at the end of the nuclear summit, which he has cited as a major move forward towards forcing Iran to agree to international inspection for its nuclear program. However, similar to the American-led diplomatic process aimed at a PA-Israeli accord, the summit highlighted optimistic speeches that did not reflect the deep disagreement on harsh sanctions, particularly by China.

Concerning Israel’s policy of ambiguity on its nuclear potential, President Obama also was ambiguous. "As far as Israel goes, I'm not going to comment about their program," he said, but added, "Whether we are talking about Israel or any other country, we think that becoming part of the NPT [non-proliferation treaty] is important."