June 5, 2009 1:41 p.m.

I’ve suggested in my posts on the settlements issue that an Israeli government can’t withstand any serious tension in the relationship with the United States. So as long as he remains popular at home, Obama holds almost all the cards in his battle with Netanyahu over settlements. Jeffrey Goldberg suggests that that is precisely what Obama is trying to do: topple Netanyahu’s government. I’ve considered that too. And at some level I think he’s right. But at another level I think the question is over-determined. I think that Obama and his people know that right now they have to start a series of steps that lead in the near term to a peace settlement. Settlements are the logical place to start. And whether it simply halts settlements, leads to Bibi’s overthrow or forces him into a new coalition, every result gets you closer to the goal which is in the interests of the US, the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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