I should be smarter than to have imagined that Netanyahu would recognize that his playbook was, like, so last week. No, after the Secretary of State tells AIPAC that new construction in East Jerusalem harms the peace process, he shows up and plays the “Jerusalem is not a settlement” card. And after private meetings with Clinton and Biden, he jacks up all the pro-Israel enthusiasm he can in Congress. Then it’s on to the White House for several hours of no-photo op meetings with the President and staff, where he is no doubt read the riot act.
The Administration knows that the Bibi of today is not the Bibi of yesterday. Then he was a tough guy. Now he’s a bag of hot air, bouncing back and forth between the right-wingers in his government who only want to weaken him and the imperatives of looking after his country’s interests. The Administration also knows that most Israelis regard Obama as “fair” and over 40 percent support a construction freeze in East Jerusalem until there’s a peace deal. Though it likes to pretend otherwise, AIPAC knows that too. Notwithstanding the love-in, so do the Democrats in Congress. The Obama Administration has decided to give Bibi the slow squeeze. And by now he knows it.