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Jamal Kanj

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March 8, 2012

WHEN meeting with settlers in the "Jewish only" colony of Ofra in 2001, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was caught on camera explaining how he sabotaged the Oslo peace accords - bragging that "America is something that can be moved easily."

In 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was quoted as telling then Israeli President Moshe Katsav: "We (Jews) control America."

Mr Sharon and Mr Netanyahu's ominous declarations were proven again this week at the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting.

On Monday night, Mr Netanyahu's speech was reportedly attended by more than two- thirds of the US Congress - a bigger turnout than that attracted by President Barack Obama. The AIPAC convention is the largest coveted "donors'" gathering for aspirant politicians.

Mr Netanyahu's ability to move the US was seen once more in President Obama's recent interview with The Atlantic magazine and on Sunday in his unctuous speech at the AIPAC annual convention.

In the interview, he seemed more concerned with assuring members of the foreign lobby that he was the best Israeli friend in the White House. "Every single commitment I have made to... Israel... I have kept," he said.

After elaborating on supplementary military assistance, including the anti-missile 'Iron Dome' to protect Israelis, he talked about "ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge" and even shielding Israel for violating human rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council, General Assembly and in the Goldstone Report.

He then made a final pathetic plea to Christian and Jewish Zionists. "Why is it despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they've had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?" he asked. At the AIPAC convention, he cited Israel more than 70 times. Yet there was zilch about the US economy while he pandered to members of a foreign lobby.

Other than blaming Palestinians for the failing peace process, the only significant addition to his interview was obsequious praise for Polish native and current Israeli President Shimon Peres, who will be awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom later this spring.

To his credit, President Obama did not succumb to demands by the Israeli Prime Minister to issue a war ultimatum to Iran.

While Israel appears resolute to instigate war against Iran as the preferred option, the US military and leadership seem equally determined to keep war as a last resort.

However, in his AIPAC speech and magazine interview, it was disturbing that the President Obama, whose country is arming Israel with the best technology and subsidising its economy with more than $5 billion of economic and military aid annually, still saw Israel as an equal to the US in making war decisions, especially when such decisions could lead to a global economic meltdown and have a devastating impact on the sluggish US economy.

It is the first time in US history that a president has implicitly delegated war authority - with high credible probability of future US involvement - to a belligerent foreign entity.

Realising such power, combined with the Jewish lobby's authority over US election and foreign policy, Israel's Prime Minister will now press further, unfettered, with his declared intent to undermine the peace process with the Palestinians.

President Obama ended his AIPAC address by pre-empting the impending speeches of Republican contenders, making one last plea to Israel firsters. He said there was "no shortage on speeches on the friendship between the US and Israel", but asked to be judged by "where my hearts lies" and by "what I have done to stand up for Israel".

The question is whether President Obama's superb efforts at servitude will suffice the insatiable AIPAC, or will Republican presidential candidates prove to be even more subservient to the most powerful US foreign lobby?

l Mr Kanj writes frequently on Arab world issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He can be reached at