An international probe, of course, would start from the premise that Israel is guilty and proceed immediately to the question of just how guilty they are. Even so, and with no disrespect to BK, I’m skeptical.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel’s behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident. The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror.
The alternative is an Israeli probe that would include an international component, which the administration’s already said it supports. When asked about Kristol’s claim, the White House admantly denied it:
A White House official told multiple reporters, “We’ve said from the beginning that we support an Israeli-led investigation into the flotilla incident that is prompt, credible, impartial, and transparent. We are open to different ways of ensuring the credibility of this Israeli-led investigation, including international participation.”
The official also said, “We know of no resolution that will be debated at the U.N. on the flotilla investigation next week.”…
While it’s true there is no specific resolution expected, sources close to the issue say, what pro-Israel leaders like Kristol are worried about are continuing calls for tougher measures against Israel, such as the vote in the Human Rights Council, and whether or not the administration will really oppose them with vigor.
Follow the link and you’ll find an unusual letter to Obama jointly written by Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid calling on him to oppose any attempts at the UN to isolate Israel. That’s why I’m skeptical: There’d be plenty of enthusiasm among the lefty base for something like that, but top congressional Democrats are careful to make their support of Israel widely and vocally known. And it’s not all a pose either. Remember, even Pelosi’s Democratic-controlled House rejected the results of the Goldstone Report by an overwhelming margin. And witness the pushback that Obama’s getting in Congress from both sides of the aisle on watering down unilateral sanctions against Iran lest we irritate our Russian and Chinese “partners in peace.” There are Democrats who understand the stakes in the Middle East, in which case what does The One gain politically by supporting a UN show trial backed by degenerates like this guy? It’ll alienate some Dems and hand the GOP a useful talking point for the midterms. The only reason to do it would be to, ahem, “improve our standing in the Muslim world,” but that’s already pretty well shot and the damage it would do to our relations with Israel would push The One’s dream of a two-state solution that much further away.
I think Jennifer Rubin’s right that Kristol’s report comes from a source floating a trial balloon, either a righty who’s worried that the White House might move in this direction and wants to kick up a fuss now to warn them off or a lefty who thinks it’s a super-keen idea and wants to see the reception it’ll get. (Although in that case, why would it have been leaked to Kristol?) Better for The One to stay the course that he’s currently on: Kinda sorta on Israel’s side, but with the occasional bribe to the Palestinians and public declaration that the blockade is “unsustainable.” That’s the best you’re going to do from him. Unfortunately.
Update: Just got an interesting e-mail from a trustworthy source and regular HA reader:
Sources of mine who are in positions to know confirmed that they’ve heard the same thing [as Kristol]. I suspect what’s going on here is a White House shot across the bow, a reminder to Bibi that things can get very nasty if he defies The One. Remember: the 10-month settlement freeze ends in September, right before the midterms, and Bibi plans on firing up the backhoes again. His coalition would fall apart if he didn’t, and he would look pathetic to boot. But in deference to the electoral prospects of his party, Obama doesn’t want to kick off another chapter in the Obama-Israel psychodrama right before the midterms. The Israelis know this and are keeping their powder dry for September. Obama is probably trying to warn them that he’d love nothing more than to let Susan Rice throw them unprotected into the UN arena.