How A Strong Sovereign Should Respond to a Slap in the Face From an Ally

While the U.S. rewards Israel for each public and private slap in the face leveled at the President, German Chancellor Angela Merkel demonstrated the appropriate response after being taken for granted by Bibi Netanyahu:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly to task Friday over last week’s decision to approve 1,100 housing units in Gilo, precipitating an unprecedented diplomatic crisis.

A senior Israeli official said the move greatly angered Merkel, after she had enlisted massive support of Israel over the past few weeks to help in thwarting a Security Council vote approving Palestinian membership in the United Nations.

Senior German officials told their Israeli counterparts that Merkel was “furious” and “does not believe a word [Netanyahu] says.”

At Netanyahu’s request, Merkel had also put major pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the Quartet’s initiative and renew talks immediately, the Israeli official said, adding that Germany may now reconsider and support upgrading the PA’s status to that of a non-member state in the UN General Assembly.

Senior officials said Merkel was angry particularly because of the timing, and because she felt the announcement on construction had sabotaged efforts to return the parties to the negotiating table.

National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror made a stealth visit to Berlin over two weeks ago, meeting with his German counterpart Christoph Heusgen and Foreign Ministry Director General Emily Haber. The meeting focused on coordinating positions regarding the Palestinian application to the Security Council and assisting Germany in formulating the Quartet’s announcement, so that it would be acceptable to Israel.

[emphasis added]

In other words, Merkel was angry (not disappointed, not sad, not any of those other useless words the US throws around) because she had spent weeks doing Israel’s bidding only to have Bibi turn around and make a mockery of her efforts. That is the appropriate response because it sends a clear message to Bibi that he had better not take her for granted. She is letting him know that being allies is sometimes a two-way street. I know, novel idea, huh? In return for unquestioning diplomatic support, economic aid, provision of military equipment (subs) etc., Israel is expected to every once in a while make a gesture in return to demonstrate an actual commitment to the peace process. But no, that’s not how Israel operates.

What I find strange in the above article is that last bit about Israel “assisting Germany in formulating the Quartet’s announcement, so that it would be acceptable to Israel.” We know the U.S. uses its position on the Quartet to protect Israel but I am surprised Germany would be so willing to engage in such a flagrant display of bias. Did anyone coordinate with the Palestinians regarding the Quartet statement? Apparently not since it didn’t really include any references to final status issues.

Also, when the U.S., Tony Blair and Germany work to ensure that the Quartet statement(s) reflect only Israel’s needs/wishes it follows that Israel will then accept the terms to restart negotiations, correct? Then, Israel looks as though they are being flexible because they are agreeing to negotiations based on Quartet parameters when in fact they (Israel) are merely rubber stamping a statement they themselves wrote. Then the Palestinians, who got nothing of substance in the Quartet statement, look like they are opposed to negotiations when they come out and say they don’t accept the terms set out by the Quartet, because they of course were not consulted ahead of time. See how this works? Everything is stacked in Israel’s favor from start to finish- the US and EU work to ensure that Israel can continue to undermine any chance at a two state solution (with settlements and demands of recognition of a Jewish state) while blaming the Palestinians for the breakdown in talks.

And then they all have the gall to wonder why Abbas finally grows a spine, gets fed up and goes to the UN.

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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5 Comments on “How A Strong Sovereign Should Respond to a Slap in the Face From an Ally”

  1. Steve Says:

    Bravo Angela. Germany is a very staunch Israeli ally, for obvious historical reasons, and it will send a strong message to Israel that she has responded this way. This is not the first time she has publicly and privately blasted him for being an ass.

    Of course, unless Germany or any other country starts to enact a price for Israeli intransigence, nothing will change. Israel will just run and hide behind America’s skirts.


    • discourseincsharpminor Says:

      Agreed. I wish someone in our government could’ve called this lastest plan for settlements the complete crock of bullfunky it so obviously is.


  2. Pilgrim Says:

    Good for Merkel.

    And thanks, Stacy, for limning the issue so clearly.


  3. Carolyn-Rodham Says:

    When Hillary chewed out Netanyahu in a 45 min phone conversation after he famously snubbed Biden during a March 2010 visit to Israel, there was barely a ripple of a response except from US Jews and J Post who essentially told her to mindher own business and leave Jerusalem alone: “When was Hillary Clinton appointed the supreme boss of Israel, as she seems to think she is? Who gave her authority to issue orders to the Israeli government?”

    I guess the same entity that gave Netanyahu authority to dictate US Foreign Policy to our own Congress?


    • Stacy Says:

      Stunning, isn’t it? Those people you mention expect the US to run in and solve all Israel’s diplomatic crises, give them tons of money and weapons, block all legal accountability at the UN but then they turn around and say “who the hell is Hillary or Obama to tell Israel what to do?”

      The Special Relationship is only one-way- Israel asks (ie. demands) we do things for them but we are not allowed to request them to do anything, like, say, comply with international law.


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