How far out on a limb has the Obama administration gone in their handling of Israel? Jake Tapper hosted a debate between John Boehner and Steny Hoyer on This Week earlier today, and about the only point of disagreement was whether there was any disagreement at all. Boehner accused Obama of having “coddled our enemies and pushed our friends aside in the process” of handling the Mavi Marmara incident and its aftermath. Israel, Boehner says, now has serious doubts about the US commitment to its closest ally in the region. Hoyer rushed to insist that Boehner’s view was … well, pretty doggoned mainstream even in the Beltway:
“This is not a partisan difference,” Hoyer said. “I strongly support Israel’s actions…It is appropriate to have a blockade to make sure they don’t get the weapons or other materials [for]…terrorist acts. I think they did exactly the right thing in stopping that [ship].”
You know who else thinks the Gaza blockade should stay in place? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — and Egypt:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas, according to what he told United States President Barack Obama during their meeting at the White House Wednesday. Egypt also supports this position. …
One of the points that Abbas raised is that the naval blockade imposed by Israel on the Strip should not be lifted at this stage. The European diplomats said Egypt has made it clear to Israel, the U.S and the European Union that it is also opposes the lifting of the naval blockade because of the difficulty in inspecting the ships that would enter and leave the Gaza port.
Abbas told Obama that actions easing the blockage should be done with care and undertaken gradually so it will not be construed as a victory for Hamas. The Palestinian leader also stressed that the population in the Gaza Strip must be supported, and that pressure should be brought to bear on Israel to allow more goods, humanitarian assistance and building materials for reconstruction. Abbas, however, said this added aid can be done by opening land crossings and other steps that do not include the lifting of the naval blockade.
If everyone agrees that the naval blockade should remain in place, and everyone saw the violent reaction aboard the Mave Marmara when Israel enforced it, then what’s the problem? Why isn’t the Obama administration telling Turkey and other Hamas apologists to pound sand? Obama has managed to brilliantly position himself slightly to the extreme side of the Palestinian Authority. This must be what Obama meant by “smart power.”