Dershowitz: Netanyahu was wise to get closer to Russia

Alan Dershowitz  picture: Tamar Mizpi

At the Israel Business Conference, Prof. Alan Dershowitz assessed chances for the peace process during the Donald Trump presidency.

The second day of the Globes Israel Business Conference 2016 in Tel Aviv opened with a panel on "Economy, Society, Security –The Great Powers and their Impact on the Middle East". The participants were Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School, Shiv Malik, author and former investigative journalist with The Guardian, Dr. Patrick Clawson, Morningstar Senior Fellow and Director of Research, Washington Institute, David Wertime, senior editor of Tea Leaf Nation and a writer for Foreign Policy. The moderator was CNN's Richard Quest

Asked about the excitement gripping Israel over the arrival of its first F-35 "Adir" stealth combat aircraft, Dr. Clawson responded, "Israel wants to ensure that its military superiority is maintained, and this is an aircraft that can evade the Russian anti-aircraft systems in Syria and Iran. This aircraft is a game-changer."

Dershowitz said that "Israel has made clear, and continues to make clear, that it will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear capability. This aircraft enforces this commitment." Dershowitz added that "Israel will be able to maintain ties with the moderate Sunni world against Iran through peace with the Palestinians."

"Netanyahu acted wisely in broadening international support for Israel by becoming closer to Russia, India, and other countries. It happened because of the vacuum created during Obama's term," Dershowitz continued. On the possibility of peace negotiations with the Palestinians being renewed during the term of president-elect Donald Trump, Dershowitz, known as a fierce opponent of US President Barack Obama on foreign policy, said, "Obama alienated the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and Saudi Arabia. The only country that he brought closer is Iran. Clearly here could be no progress in negotiations with Palestinians in his time, but I believe with all my heart that during Trump's term it could happen."

Yesterday evening, in a conference session entitled "Israel's Global Standing" chaired by Reuters Jerusalem bureau chief Luke Baker, Dershowitz had more to say on the chances of the peace process during a Trump presidency. "I don’t agree with John Kerry that the settlements annihilate the prospect of peace. If you look at the map – 99% of the settlements are so close to the borders of Israel that it only requires a few by-pass roads, a few super-highways, to solve this. In my opinion, when the Palestinians want a state more than they want Israel to cease to exist, they will get a state. But the things happening at Amona put Israel in a terrible position in the international arena and make it hard for us to defend her. Israel would do well to freeze construction in the settlements and make the Palestinians a generous offer that will bring them back to the negotiating table. Israel has friends in the Western world. These friends do not wish to see Israel expand the settlements.

"When I defend Israel abroad, I avoid mentioning the settlements. I adopt what I call the 80% defense. On 80% of the matters concerning Israel there is consensus: most of us are in favor of Israel's right to exist, oppose BDS, and suspicious of the agreement with Iran. The other 20% divide the Israelis. The settlements are one of these subjects."

Asked whether he thought that Obama would carry out his threat not to impose a veto on a UN Security Council resolution giving Israel an ultimatum on negotiations with the Palestinians, Dershowitz said, "What most concerns me about UN resolutions is that they encourage the Palestinians to think that they can attain a reality of two states without making painful decisions around the negotiating table. Palestinian leaders have told me that their lives have become much more difficult because of the activity of the BDS movement. Ask yourselves why. It's much harder for Palestinian leaders to say 'We'll meet the Israelis in Ramallah, in Jerusalem' if their public believes that decisions on the future of the Middle East can be made in Geneva and Washington.

"I believe that if Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would have told Obama not to go to the UN. UN resolutions tie the administration's hands. I hope that Trump will tell Obama the same thing, and I hope that Obama will listen to him. There's a chance that Obama will still go to the UN, out of vengefulness or in an attempt to consolidate his standing in history. But I'd bet that it won't happen.

"I love Obama. I advised him, he was a student of mine. But Obama succeeded – and this is an amazing, unique achievement – to make the entire Middle East hate him. The Israelis hate him, the Palestinians hate him, the Egyptians hate him. Only in one country do they like him: Iran, and that's some achievement. He created a vacuum in Syria and let the Russians fill it. History will remember Obama as a superb president for domestic policy and a terrible president for foreign policy."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 12, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

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Alan Dershowitz  picture: Tamar Mizpi
Alan Dershowitz picture: Tamar Mizpi
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