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The Realist Prism: Gaza, NPT Could Run Out Obama's Mideast Clock

Friday, June 4, 2010

Over the past week, the Obama administration's position on Israel exhibited what, in U.S. domestic political terms, amount to tectonic shifts. First, at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference last week, the United States chose not to block language that identified Israel's undeclared nuclear program as a barrier to stemming proliferation in the Middle East. Then, earlier this week, Washington permitted a U.N. Security Council presidential statement condemning the Gaza flotilla incident to go forward. When combined with public and direct criticism a few months back of Israel's settlements policy, it adds up, in the eyes of many U.S. politicians and pundits, to President Barack Obama "throwing Israel under the bus" and abandoning a key ally. And as Daniel Henninger at the Wall Street Journal argued, when the U.S. criticizes Israel, it "lowers the threshold" for others to do so.

Democrats in Congress have criticized the president's attempts at a "nuanced" stance. Rep. Gary Ackerman, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, argued against "holding Israel to an unacceptable double standard." In assessing the recent actions of the administration, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer concluded, "That's the kind of switch the world notices: An ally gets a push, while an enemy gets a pass." ...

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