In late September, the U.S. administration offered Tel Aviv a lavish list of inducements, including promises of military hardware, in exchange for just a 60-day freeze. Netanyahu declined. The administration might once again choose accommodation. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), in Israel this week, has already suggested that the Palestinians can be lured back to negotiations with other concessions.
Or, Levy asks, “Do you put a choice in front of him?” Obama could call Netanyahu’s bluff by presenting both sides with a map indicating a proposed territorial solution, an idea which has begun to gain currency. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would then have to decide whether to accept such a map as a starting point and thus put an end to the wrangling over settlements. Abbas would almost certainly agree. Netanyahu’s right-wing allies would denounce the idea, but Israel’s Labor Party, also a member of his coalition, would embrace it. Would Netanyahu again risk the survival of his government? “If you do it smartly,” says Levy, “you can repeat ’98-9” — that is, Wye.