President Obama moet zo snel mogelijk een einde maken aan het conflict in het Midden-Oosten. Het willen handhaven van de huidige situatie – zoals de zogenaamde ‘vrienden van Israel’ beogen – leidt onherroepelijk tot de vernietiging van Israel.
..Since the early twentieth century the slaughter of innocents has been considered a legitimate military tactic or, not much better, unavoidable collateral damage. The Arab-Israeli conflict has not yet fully descended into mass carnage (with the awful exceptions of the Hamas suicide bombings and massacres like Baruch Goldsteins Hebron slaughter) but, no doubt, that is where we are heading unless we begin treating the Arab-Israeli conflict with the urgency it warrants.
So far that hasnt happened. Here in Washington, otherwise intelligent people say that immediate action to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict might be nice, but isnt critical. Invariably, the people who make this case are strongly attached to Israel and believe that the certainties of the status quo are less threatening to Israels future than the uncertainties of negotiation.
They could not be more wrong. The status quo is destroying Israel.
A few hundred thousand settlers are holding the entire country hostage. The once universally respected Israeli army is now treated with scorn by rightists who view them as symbols of the government of Israel, the legitimacy of which they reject. Settlers abuse and humiliate Palestinians, steal their homes, and destroy their livelihood. They are on a continuous rampagegrabbing Palestinian homes in Hebron, terrorizing olive farmers and destroying their crops, poisoning the land so that sheep and goats cannot graze, and snatching territory in the heart of Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Of course, their Hamas counterparts are even worse. So far, no Hamas rockets have landed on a school and killed a few hundred kids, which must be a source of disappointment for the terrorists. But if the cease-fire breaks down, fails to be renewed, or continues to be violated, it is inevitable that innocent Israeli kids will die. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Palestinian kids are suffering, and dying, from the Israeli blockade which, like the rockets, makes no distinction between children and terrorists.
Yet there is no sense of urgency about ending this conflict. And it is quite possible that there wont be until more unspeakable carnage takes place.
As a Jew, and a lifelong supporter of Israel, it infuriates me that people who call themselves friends of Israel work with such fervor to preserve this situation.
A few months ago when Secretary of State Rice wanted to go to the region for one final push to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, a top Jewish spokesman rushed to the White House, met with the President, and succeeded in thwarting Rices plan.
No doubt he went back to New York feeling that he had done something good for Israel. He hadnt. He damaged Israel, as he and others who share his views have repeatedly done every time they throw obstacles in the way of Arab-Israeli peace. If it had been up to that crowd, Israel would still have no dealings with the Palestinians, the Israel-Egypt treaty would have gone unsigned, and Jordan and Israel would still be in a state of war.
Do you doubt this? Go to the archives of any of the friends of the status quo organizations and you will find one press release after another warning America not to pressure Israel and that now is not the time to ask Israel to do anything (it is always the time to issue demands to the Palestinians).
These spokesmen devote their efforts to a status quo that cannot be sustained. There are four million Palestinians in the occupied territories. Do the proponents of doing nothing imagine that they will disappear? Do they believe that they can be denied basic human rights (like self-determination) forever? Do they think that the Israel Defense Forces can control four million people when they decideperhaps with the assistance of Iran and Al Qaedathat armed resistance offers the only chance to achieve their rights? Do they really want to wait and find out?
Pro-Israel? Only if that means preserving conditions that will lead to Israels demise.
Enough is enough. We have a new President who has pledged to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian agreement from day one. We have a Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is fully committed to peace with Israel and works with Americans and Israelis to secure it. Most important of all, we have a pledge from all 22 Arab states to establish full normalized relations with Israel in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 territories.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said last week that the two-state solution is now the 22-state solution. Actually, its 23. 22 plus one Jewish state: Israel.
For Israels sake, and our own, President Obama should appoint a Special Envoy to the Middle East charged with implementing the Arab Initiative and Arab-Israeli peace. With 365 electoral votes, a Congress in the hands of his party, and with the votes of 80% of American Jews in his pocket, President Obama has no excuse not to act. Nor do I think he is looking for one. Barack Obama will be the President who ends this conflict.
MJ Rosenberg is the Director of Israel Policy Forum’s Washington Policy Center
USA and Israel: Friends dont let friends drive drunk
Obama clearly does not buy into the conventional wisdom (propagated by the neocons), which deems it unnecessary to address the Arab-Israeli conflict immediately. Yes, the neocons say, its a tinderboxbut there are others that are more dangerous, like the conflict over Kashmir and Pakistans inability to control its home based terrorists.
Obama seems to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the heart of virtually all of Americas problems in the Middle East. Paradoxically it is the Middle East problem most amenable to resolution by way of American leadership. Indians and Pakistanis care what the United States thinks, but neither depends on us the way Israelis and Palestinians do. Israelis and Palestinians need us, both for our aid and for political and moral support. Neither side can say no to an American President with impunityespecially when all he is demanding is that each live up to commitments they have already made.
Of course, issuing demands to the Palestinians is nothing new. We have been doing that for 20 years. Our first demand was that the PLO recognize Israels right to exist and renounce terrorism. It did that first with a unilateral statement in 1988 and then, again, in 1993 with the Oslo Declaration. Today the Palestinian Authority works with Israel to combat terrorism, is fully committed to the two-state solution, and is engaged in negotiations with Israel on a final status agreement. The Palestinians have also acceded to our demands that the PLO amend its charter to remove references to the destruction of Israel and eliminate anti-Semitic references in Palestinian textbooks.
The most significant Palestinian concession was to give up the claim to all of historic Palestine. For the first 30 years of its existence, the PLO (and Palestinians in general) rejected Israels right to any part of Palestine. Today they concede 78% of the land to Israeli.e. the land encompassed by the 67 borderswhile insisting on establishing a state in the 22% that is the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
Israels most significant concession was recognizing the Palestinian right to statehood. It took five decades but today the government of Israel accepts the Palestinian claim to that 22% figure, although it wants some flexibility in determining what lands will constitute it. (For instance, it would swap some land in Israel proper in exchange for West Bank territory adjacent to Israel).
Essentially, the two sides are already in agreement about what an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will look like.
The main obstacle to achieving it remains the occupation. Ironically, the number of Israeli settlements, and settlers, has increased dramatically since Israel committed itself to ending it. There is no need to spell out the details here. Everyone knows about the checkpoints, the wall, the roads reserved for settlers only, the systematic destruction of the Palestinian economy, the incessant harassment by settlers.
Worst of all, the occupation keeps getting more violent..