U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the new leaders of their respective democratic nations, are like two horses bound to a carriage, each pulling in a different direction as it relates to Middle East policy. For Netanyahu however, the Middle East is home turf, and any wrong move might have critical if not existential consequences. For Obama on the other hand, half the world away, a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians based on a Two-State solution, would bring him and his administration prestige, and perhaps Arab triumphalism, but little more.
It is apparent that the two leaders are pursuing different agendas in the region. For Israel, the existential issue of how to avert an Iranian attack that would end Israel as we know it is top priority. President Ahamdinejad, like Hitler before him (who made his intentions known in his book Mein Kampf), takes advantage of every opportunity and camera to assert his goal “to wipe Israel off the map.” Iran’s Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khameini, in lock step with its President, has referred to Israel as the “cancerous tumor that must be eradicated.” With the Holocaust as an historical backdrop, the leader of the Jewish State must take these words emanating from Iran’s Islamic Republic seriously and urgently address the threat they pose.
By Obama’s estimates Iran does not pose an immediate problem or an existential threat to the U.S. And, in Obama’s dogged determination to convince the Arab-Muslim world that George W. Bush’s policies and direction will be changed and hoping to win their approval, he will push for Israeli concessions on Palestine and a dialogue with Iran. He has therefore made the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks that would lead to an expedited time-table for a Palestinian state his top priority.
In fact, just last Thursday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the illogical statement: "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand."
This is hardly new. Immediately upon taking office President Obama called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and made a pledge to him that he will seek to establish a Palestinian State as soon as possible. According to the American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP) website, “US President Barack Obama reassured Arabs with his unambiguous support for a Palestinian state this week and he nudged Israel’s conservative government, which has carefully avoided committing itself to that goal.” ATFP’s advocacy director, Ghaith al-Omari stated that "By saying what he said in Turkey, I think it sent a clear signal about the two-state solution. It's non-negotiable. It has now become a pillar of US policy."
The White House’s lame denials notwithstanding, Obama’s bowing to Saudi King Abdullah at the G20 summit in London appears to be more than symbolism - it meant the acceptance of the Saudi “Peace Initiative” formulated back in 2002, which has now become the official Arab (Arab League) initiative. The Saudi Plan calls for the forced evacuation of close to 500,000 Jews from Judea, Samaria, and suburban Jerusalem. Moreover, the Saudi plan would condition peace on the Palestinian refugees “right of return,” a sure formula for the demographic annihilation of the Jewish State. This initiative, if implemented, would set the stage for a civil war within Israel and would be a prescription for the destruction of the Jewish State.
Obama’s notion of a “Two-State solution” is inherently false. There are already two Palestinian states in the West Bank and Gaza for all intents and purpose. In Gaza there is Hamastan and, Fatahland which is led by Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank. In addition, Jordan’s (at 35,000+ square miles is almost 5 times the size of Israel) majority (70%) population is Palestinian. In both the West bank and Gaza the Palestinians have full control over their affairs except in areas that directly threaten Israel’s security: Palestinian acquisition of heavy armament, i.e. tanks, aircrafts, and border control, which Israel retains. One only need look at Hamas’ continued rocketing of Israeli towns from Gaza to realize that without border control, and demilitarization, Iran and Syria, would arm Gaza and the West Bank to the teeth.
Both the Saudi Plan and the demands of the Palestinians include the removal of Jewish settlements in order to achieve contiguity of the Palestinian territories. According to what we’ve heard the Obama administration seems to agree with this. But, why then should Jewish contiguity in Israel be cut off by Arab towns and villages, and why the double standard? If Israel has been able to live with 1.2 million Arabs in its midst, why can’t the Palestinians live with less than 500,000 Jews? Is it that Palestinian Arabs need to have their state judenrein just as Jordan and Saudi Arabia are?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech this week at Durban Two, the UN conference on Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance in Geneva, confirmed the need for Netanyahu to hold to his priorities. For Israel a nuclear Iran poses the same kind of threat a rearmed Hitler posed to the Jews of Europe – extinction.
While the Netanyahu government has not fully formulated its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s notion of ‘economic peace’ is a promising option for “hope and change,” contrary to Obama’s advocacy of the worn out peace process that seeks to create a Palestinian terrorist state without a genuine peace. Netanyahu will remind Obama that the Palestinians, whether Hamas in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah have not adhered to any of the conditions for peace - instead they have refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, dismantle the terror infrastructure, or stop anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement in schools, mosques or the media.
An ‘economic peace’ aimed at raising the living standards of average Palestinians would empower Palestinians to seek stability and peace - leading them to pressure their non-democratic leaders to curb violence and terrorism. A peace process that begins from the bottom up would bring lasting results. Conversely, providing Abbas with additional billions in U.S. and E.U aid, which has done little for the Palestinian people or for peace, is only throwing good money after bad.