Brog's Blog

May 18, 2009

Netanyahu Cometh

Filed under: All Posts — brogsblog @ 8:20 pm

Many friends of Israel are worried that President Obama will pressure Netanyahu into making risky territoritorial concessions before there is a reliable Palestinian partner to receive them.  There is reason for such concern.  The Administration has sent a series of strong signals that it intends to obtain a peace agreement on an expedited basis.  Such talk of a quick peace raises the question of whether the Administration is sufficiently wary of the difficult realities which have so often turned the best of intentions into the most tragic of results.
Yet we cannot judge the Administration on the basis of signals and conjecture.  The fact is that we do not yet know what Netanyahu will propose.  Nor do we know how Obama will respond.  We will know a lot more Monday night than we do Monday morning.  And we will probably get the most important. details in the weeks and months to come.  As these facts emerge, we will be able to judge the Administration by the only relevant criteria: its actions.
The Israelis have shown a strong and consistent interest in peace and a two-state solution.  They have repeatedly elected prime ministers who campaigned on the promise to aggresivley pursue land-for-peace policies.  We need to remember that most Israelis don’t view land for peace as a gift to the Palestinians.  They see withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza as the only way to preserve Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state.  If Israel retains these heavily populated Arab territories, most experts believe that these Arabs will outnumber Israel’s Jews in the very near future.
Yet while Israelis may support land for peace in priciple, they have grown wary of it in practice.  Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon was followed by thousands of Hezbollah missiles landing in northern Israel.  Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was rewarded by thousands of Hamas missiles landing in southern Israel.  Israelis understand that if the strategic high ground of the West Bank fell into Hamas’ hands, Israel’s major population and industrial centers would all be within range of Hamas missiles.
Thus there is a reason why Israelis elected Binyamin Netanyahu.  Concessions have not brought progress.  Hamas is ascendant.  Mahmoud Abbas’ and his Fatah colleagues talk about peace, but they appear to lack the will to teach it to their children and the power to force it upon Hamas.  With no reliable partner for peace, Israelis voted to slow the machinery of negotiations and concessions.  The Israelis are not ignoring the facts on the ground.  Neither should we.
This is why we continue to stand by Israel’s people and their democratically elected leaders.  And this is why we will be closely watching the outcome of today’s meetings.  Will President Obama begin to lay the groundwork for a lasting peace?  Or will he ignore the facts on the ground and pressure the Israelis into an agreement that they believe will endanger their security?  While we would applaud the former, we would object to the latter.
During his campaign, President Obama made a series of important promies regarding the Middle East.  He called Israel’s security “sacrosanct.”. And he called a nuclear Iran “unacceptable.”. Now it is time for him to deliver on his promises and keep his vows to the American people.

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