Obama's evenhanded Mideast policy
The president's approach isn't anti-Israel; it's a balance that could tip the scales toward a two-state solution.
...The idea that Obama is "anti-Israeli" is far-fetched. Speaking at Cairo University in June, Obama declared categorically to the Muslim world that the bond between the United States and Israel is "unbreakable." Israel remains a key ally, the No. 1 recipient of U.S. foreign aid at more than $2.7 billion this year. The special relationship between the two countries was demonstrated once again this week by visits from four high-ranking administration officials. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, national security advisor James L. Jones, special envoy George J. Mitchell and Mideast specialist Dennis Ross traveled there to assure Israel of U.S. military cooperation and opposition to Iran's nuclear ambitions, as well as to press the settlement issue and to try to put the peace process back on track.
That said, it is true that Obama has made significant policy shifts in order to serve as an effective peace broker...the future of settlements has to be resolved through negotiations. Such preemptive moves stand as proof to Palestinians and most of the Arab world that neither Israel nor the United States is serious about creating a viable Palestinian state.
This is why Obama is seeking -- dare we say? -- a more evenhanded approach to peace-making. He wants to shift the U.S.-Israeli alliance from what former U.S. Mideast negotiator Aaron Miller calls an "exclusive relationship that doesn't serve our interests to a distinguished special relationship, which we do need." In fact, that is also what Israel needs, given that the exclusive relationship has failed to provide security or produce a sustainable peace. Most Americans, Israelis and Palestinians support separate, side-by-side Israeli and Palestinian states. Rather than fear the Obama administration's shift, Israelis should hope that more balance will give Obama more clout to pursue a two-state solution -- Israel's best hope for a secure future.
[Of course, a two-state solution is the only solution that has ever been tried but has consistently failed time and time again. 1922 East Palestine became TransJordan. 1937 west Palestine was to be partitioned but local Arabs never agreed - they wanted it all. 1947 the UN Partition would have left the Jews almost nothing of the original territory to have been the Jewish National Home and the Arabs rejected it. 1968 Allon Plan was rejected. 1993 Oslo Accords dissolved into terror as did every former political arrangement. 2005 Disengagement from Gaza brought about increased terror. Local Arabs are not interested in peace or a state but preventing Jews from any national independence in any portion of their homeland]
...Arab states have been as resistant as Israel and just as wrongheaded. A Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman said this week that "normalization" comes only after Israel has changed its ways...
...Obama has been criticized for failing to rally Israeli public opinion on the settlement freeze. That shouldn't be so hard because most Israelis do not support settlements, [not true] but he does have to reach out to them, and he needs the help of Arab states to do so.
...the goal of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel...ultimately this serves the interests of Israel, its Arab neighbors and the United States. And it is a goal more likely achieved with an evenhanded U.S. policy.