Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why Did Sarkozy and Obama 'Dis' [Disrespect] Bibi?

By Barry Rubin

During a conversation when they thought nobody was listening French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President Barack Obama said nasty things about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A lot of the analysis about what this tells us I think is rather misleading.

Regarding Sarkozy, French-Israel relations have been good and there have not been major problems with Sarkozy. On one hand, Sarkozy has been far friendlier to Israel than his Gaullist and Socialist predecessors. True, he is surrounded by some hostile advisors, including the career staff at the Foreign Ministry, but on the other hand there is a defense and counterterrorism establishment that admires Israel.

Indeed, Sarkozy helped kill the Palestinian unilateral independence effort in the UN Security Council, a major service to Israel. Yet France voted in favor of the Palesstinian entry into the UNESCO organization. Incidentally, Sarkozy has also not been a fan of Obama in the past.

Why suddenly has Sarkozy turned against Netanyahu? I can't prove it but I think there is evidence for the following scenario. Sarkozy decided that he was going to broker a major deal at the UN, showing that France was a leading great power in the world. (A theme I think you have heard before is a major French goal.) So he went to Netanyahu with a proposal: Israel would accept unilateral independence for Palestine and Sarkozy would get Israel something from the Palestinians (perhaps recognition of a Jewish state?).

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