Rahm Offers Tough Talk on Two States

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to badly want Kadima chief Tzipi Livni to join his coalition, but the price she was asking — for Netanyahu to say he supports the idea of a two state solution — proved too high for the Likud leader. Instead, he formed a coalition with far-right leader Avigdor Lieberman who also opposes a two state solution, has disavowed the Annapolis process, and wants to entrench greater levels of discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens. Given that Livni wasn’t even talking about any concrete concessions to the Palestinians, this makes the outlook for peace look quite bad. But according to this M.J. Rosenberg item, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emannuel is signaling that Barack Obama is very serious about pursuing a two state solution:

Yedioth Achronoth, the largest circulation daily in Israel, reports today that President Obama intends to see the two-state solution signed, sealed and delivered during his first term.

Rahm Emanuel told an (unnamed) Jewish leader; “In the next four years there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister.”

He also said that the United States will exert pressure to see that deal is put into place.”Any treatment of the Iranian nuclear problem will be contingent upon progress in the negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory,” the paper reports Emanuel as saying. In other words, US sympathy for Israel’s position vis a vis Iran depends on Israel’s willingness to live up to its commitment to get out of the West Bank and permit the establishment of a Palestinian state there, in Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

That sounds like a good approach to me, though foreign press reports are often unreliable.