Israel is not the problem in the Middle East but breathtakingly President Barack Obama has come to the conclusion that the best path to peace in the region would be to do something that no U.S. president has done since The Six Day War and that is force Israel to negotiate peace from weakened pre-June 1967 borders. A position that Prime Minister Netanyahu offers in rebuttal is “indefensible.” A position that history clearly shows only leads to instability and aggression — not lasting peace.
The president of the United States wants peace no less than the prime minister of Israel and each of their citizens. I also believe that many Palestinians themselves have no quarrel with Israel. Tragically, after five major wars and several “land for peace” efforts by Israel none have resulted in the simple recognition by the Palestinian Authority or most of their Arab neighbors of Israel’s right to exist or the sovereignty of her borders. There cannot be a lasting peace in the region without both.
The conflict is as Mr. Netanyahu said, “not about the establishment of a Palestinian state but the existence of a Jewish state.” Israel’s borders have been breached hundreds of thousands of times by rockets, artillery and by terrorists over many years of so-called peace. Americans could never be expected to live under these conditions. Why should generations of Jews in Israel be forced to live this way?
To his credit the president has made numerous overtures to the Muslim world and many of Israel’s enemies since 2009 in the pursuit of peace. Unfortunately, his actions have been answered with rebuke and have not moved along the effort to build bonds between the principals. The core of the opposition’s argument is there simply is no room for a Jewish state in the region.
The president’s address not only impacted the Israel/Palestine discussion but also the growing nuclear threat with a much more dangerous Iran. It is unhealthy for Israel to constantly be backed into inferior positions that have a cumulative negative impact on her future security in the pursuit of “peace.”
What would a “pro peace” U.S. president do to promote a lasting resolution? He would bluntly state Israel’s right to exist is undisputed. That the refugee “problem” must be settled outside the borders of Israel. He would say all borders must be secure and hold both sides accountable for their actions. Finally, he would convince the Palestinian Authority that the only way for them to independently exist in peace is to understand that Jerusalem is the undividable capital of Israel.
Lasting peace will be difficult to achieve, however, such a basic understanding would be the proper groundwork for doing so and we all know it.
Bruce Ash is the Republican National Committeeman for Arizona.