Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How crazy? This crazy.

In a sign of growing concern in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government over US President Barack Obama's Middle East policies, Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled proposed Israeli sanctions on the US in a letter to cabinet ministers on Sunday.

In the 11-page letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post from a minister on Monday, Peled recommends steps Israel can take to compensate for the shift in American policy, which he believes has become hostile to Israel.

"Obama's ascendance represents a turning point in America's approach to the region, especially to Israel," he wrote in the letter. "The new administration believes that in order to fight terror, guarantee stability and withdraw from Iraq, a new diplomatic slant is needed involving drastic steps to pacify the Muslim world and the adoption of a more balanced approach to Israel, including intensive pressure to stop building in settlements, remove outposts and advance the formation of a Palestinian state."

Uh.... hmm.... I... Uh...

Wow. Israeli sanctions against the United States? Boy, how effective could this be? According to this, total Israeli imports from the US in 2007 amounted to... $14.4 billion. That's just a bit more than 1/10th of one per cent of US GDP. In terms of a trading partner, Israel ranks behind India, Belgium, Switzerland, and Korea.

Meanwhile, this delusional scenario would put Israel's exports to the US in obvious risk, meaning almost half of all of Israel's trade, amounting to 1/5 of its GDP, would be threatened.

Not to mention that the IDF is totally, entirely dependent on American trade to keep (among other things) its air force flying. This proposal is just totally insane, but its a mark of what the far-right in Israel is thinking at the moment -- a ruinous trade war with the US, rather than withdrawal from the West Bank and negotiations with the countries on Israel's borders. ("Neighbours" is probably the wrong word, in this context...)

I'm not even going to go in to Peled's suggestion that Israel get involved in domestic US politics to pressure Obama... though if there were any justice right now, people would be lining up to apologize to Walt and Mearsheimer.

And, just so we're clear, Peled has a home in the governing Likud Party, not one of the further-right fringes. Who, for further clarity, have a home in the governing coalition. Yeesh.

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