Thomas L. Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Middle-East affairs columnist for The New York Times dropped an op-ed on Wednesday on how Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is manipulating Donald Trump to support him in his no-win scenario on Israel.
According to Friedman, Netanyahu is like a drunk friend — drunk with support from the right wing of his own government, which he must preserve at all costs — and not to be trusted to drive a hopeful two-state solution with Palestine.
After the U.S. declined to veto the UN resolution to admonish Israel for West Bank settlements into Palestine territory, both Netanyahu and Trump expressed criticism for U.S. President Barack Obama. Rather than taking the abstention as an unwillingness to condemn Israel, it was perceived as a failure to support the small country’s continued settlements into Palestinian territory.
According to Friedman, however, Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, have made it clear that the U.S. supports the democracy in Israel with a 10-year, $38 billion military aid package three months ago. Friedman also points out that this is the largest military aid package to any U.S. ally in history.
Friedman claims that Netanyahu’s inability to take a stand on West Bank settlers is borne of his desire to keep power in his country’s right-wing faction. This would close the door on a two-state solution, and according to Friedman, it would also destroy the country’s Jewish character.
Israelis settlements in the West Bank, as he points out, would mean absorbing 2.8 million Palestinians. With 1.7 million Arabs already living in Israel, the two combined populations would soon overwhelm the Jewish Israelis, especially considering that they enjoy a higher birthrate.
Although Friedman agrees that Israel needs to keep military control of the West Bank, considering that the Arab powers are too unstable to ensure safety there, Netanyahu’s desire to keep power of the conservative faction and allow further settlements isolates Israel from the international community, most recently in the form of a UN resolution condemning these settlements.
Netanyahu is also receiving more criticism from the liberals in Israel and is now in deep trouble. Newsweek reported Friday that the Israeli Prime Minister is now under investigation for corruption for receiving significantly valuable gifts from two businessman. Last month, he faced conflict of interest violations over the sale of submarines to Israel. Earlier this year, he was accused of receiving $1.1 million from a convicted fraud now serving eight years in prison.
Opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, leveled the same accusations against Netanyahu on Saturday, saying that the leader has lost control, that the prime minister is weak and refuses to make “important historical decisions that come with the position,” as reported in The Jerusalem Post.
Similarly, NYT’s Friedman accuses Netanyahu of any desire to:
‘Build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support.’
Friedman also criticizes President-elect Donald Trump of allowing Netanyahu to manipulate him:
‘More worrisome is the fact that President-elect Donald Trump — who could be a fresh change agent — is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists, and I mean extreme.’
He also slams Trump’s intended ambassador to Israel, David Friedman:
‘His ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, has compared Jews who favor a two-state solution to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. I’ve never heard such a vile slur from one Jew to another.’
Friedman also states that Trump is playing right into Iran’s hands; by focusing attention on Israel’s continual annexation of the Palestinian lands in the West Bank, he’s forcing attention away from Iran’s human rights violations. He’s also creating a culture of outrage and alienation that ISIS will use in the Middle East as a recruiting tool.
‘It would draw all attention away from Iran’s own human rights abuses and enable Iran and ISIS to present themselves as the leading Muslim protectors of Jerusalem — and to present America’s Sunni Arab allies as lackeys of an extremist Israel. This would create all kinds of problems for these Arab regimes. A West Bank on fire would become a recruitment tool for ISIS and Iran.’
Netanyahu is speaking Trump’s language in order to manipulate the inexperienced new president-elect into supporting him — by flattering and agreeing with him on Twitter.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 29, 2016
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 28, 2016
Friedman doesn’t mince words in his damning op-ed:
‘Trump also has no idea how much he is being manipulated into helping Iran and ISIS…
‘One day Trump will wake up and discover that he was manipulated into becoming the co-father, with Netanyahu, of an Israel that is either no longer Jewish or no longer democratic. He will discover that he was Bibi’s chump.’
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