Jeffrey Goldberg has released an interview he conducted with President Barack Obama last Thursday, during which the president outlined his message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he will meet on Monday. Obama will warn Netanyahu that he is nearing “a point where you can’t manage this anymore,” and that he may face “a permanent occupation of the West Bank” that undermines Israel’s democratic character.
Obama explained the implicit threats that Secretary of State John Kerry has articulated, controversially, about what might happen to Israel if it did not accept an American framework for peace and reach an agreement. “I think he has been simply stating what observers inside of Israel and outside of Israel recognize….What we know is that it gets harder by the day. What we also know is that Israel has become more isolated internationally.”
The president evidently believes this is the last chance for peace. “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?” he asked. Goldberg claims that Obama was deliberately quoting the Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel. (Goldberg left off the first part of Hillel’s dictum: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” With President Obama pressuring Israel, and the U.S. abandoning allies worldwide, it is a very serious question.)
Goldberg’s tone throughout was rather odd–less that of a journalist and more that of a spokesman, as if he were eager to help the president best advocate for his position. On Netanyahu, for example, Goldberg volunteered: “…[Y]ou also get frustrated by an inability or unwillingness on his part to spend political capital–in terms of risking coalition partnerships–in order to embrace what he says he accepts, a two-state solution.”