Yossi Melman at PostGlobal

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. Close.

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. more »

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U..S-Israel Tension Is Exaggerated

The Current Discussion: Are Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama on a collision course over Iran and the Palestinian problem? What would be the consequences of a breach between the United States and Israel?

Yes, with a capital 'Y', the two countries seem to be on a collision course these days.

From President Obama to Vice President Biden to Secretary of State Clinton to National Security Advisor Jones, the message is clear: Israel must enhance peace talks with the Palestinians in order to fulfill its own previous governments' commitments to a "two-state solution," i.e. an Israeli state side-by-side in peace and security with a Palestinian state. That means Israel has to dismantle all Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and hand the territory over to the Palestinians.

These demands stand in sharp contrast to the agenda, ideology and intentions of the newly elected, right-of-center government of Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Still, it is difficult to predict to what extent the U.S. administration will stay true to its words and be determined to turn its statements into actions. We have past American administrations make public claims about Israel, but do nothing to implement them. In other words, as far as Israel was concerned, America's heart is not always where its mouth has been.

Many Israelis hope that this time the U.S. administration will slam the hammer on Israel's head. They wish that the Obama administration would help to save Israel from its own destiny of occupation and dangerous demographic trends, which threaten to undermine the very nature of Israel as a democratic society. Netanyahu will try to stall for time next week at his first meeting with President Obama. He will try to persuade the U.S. that it's too early to make demands and set ultimatums for him. He will most likely say that if he is pressed to do what top American officials have already advised Israel to do, he'll lose his coalition.

Yet, one shouldn't exaggerate the tension between the two administrations. Contrary to popular belief, Israel accepts - though reluctantly - the new American policy on Iran. It has no alternative but to wait and see how the Washington-Tehran negotiations might develop. The U.S. is not pushing Israel to engage in peace talks with Syria.

So the only stumbling block is the Palestinian issue. It seems to be unbridgeable, but I tend to believe that the two sides will eventually find a way to narrow that gap with some sort of a compromise. No one wishes to create a genuine confrontation.

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