There is little doubt that Israel looks to the United States for support. It is somewhat like the picked on younger brother eager to have his sibling come to his aid. In the case of the United States and Israel that has usually been the case, albeit the 1956 war in the Suez was an exception.
Now something has gone sour. For reasons somewhat elusive, President Barack Obama has arrived at the dubious conclusion that conditions in the Middle East might improve if Israel and the Palestinians could arrive at an understanding about a Palestinian state.
Never mind that Assad kills his own Syrian citizens interested in regime change. Never mind that Egypt is unstable after Mubarak’s unceremonious ouster. Never mind the civil war in the Sudan has led to the death of thousands. Never mind that the rebels in Libya may not be interested in a democratic republic. Never mind Iraq is close to civil war as U.S. forces decline. Never mind Afghanistan has a civil war with U.S. forces on the ground. Never mind Pakistan is a friend by day and a foe by night. And never mind Iran is about to acquire nuclear weapons.
The issue for Obama is organic population growth on the West Bank. Now that’s an issue worth the president’s attention.
What most people do not know, including President Obama, is that most settlements are a literal stone’s throw from Jerusalem. The communities that the president complains about are the ones that allow Jerusalem to survive. They offer strategic depth or at least a little of it.
Without Judea and Samaria, Israel’s waist is 8 1/2 miles wide. Israel would simply become indefensible. In fact, in this scenario a terrorist firing a Stinger from the Judean hills could shoot every commercial plane taking off from and landing at Ben Gurion airport.
While the president has referred to Israel’s recalcitrance about a return to the so-called ’67 borders, he overlooks the unwillingness of either Fatah or Hamas to recognize the state of Israel. On the contrary, even as they demand a state, they demonize Israel and launch weekly attacks against it.
Israeli opinion is divided. The left believes that since Israel cannot incorporate the nearly 4 million Arabs in the West Bank, the creation of a Palestinian state is a safety value that avoids a demographic nightmare. The right contends a Palestinian state would be a sanctuary for terrorism disrupting Israeli lives now and into the future.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu contends a state can be created if the P.A. (Palestinian Authority) renounces violence, disarms, and recognizes the state of Israel as a Jewish state. It is a reasonable stance politically, but one opposed by all parties in the Palestinian territory.
Once again Palestinians seem to embrace the Abba Eban dictum in which “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
However, in this case the opportunity may be seized by the General Assembly seemingly eager to impose a Palestinian state on Israel without preconditions. Fortunately, the U.S. is likely to veto any state proposal within the Security Council halting at least for now any Palestinian national entity.
Within the White House there are very few divisions. President Obama is intent on mollifying Arab opinion. It is also much too complicated trying to sort out issues as political cultures in the region are roiling; but the Israel-Palestinian issue can be addressed by simply putting more pressure on Israel.
The only fly in the ointment is Obama’s intent on re-election. For him to achieve this goal, he needs Jewish political and financial support. An active anti-Israeli agenda simply won’t fly.
So expect equivocation, appeasement and sounds of sweet harmony. It won’t be sincere; then again it doesn’t have to be since Jewish Americans are already inclined to support Obama even if it isn’t in their interest to do so.
Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Publishers).
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