Friday, May 15, 2009

Will Obama Try to Force Arab Two-State Plan on Israel?

Linda Korrow

New York - The eyes of the world are on Washington, as two allied world leaders – Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama – prepare to meet on Monday. Some Arab states are already on the war path. Arab leaders are going on the record, demanding in strong language that President Obama order Israel to fall in line behind Saudi King Abdullah's two-state "Arab peace plan." The plan, which calls for a two-state solution, is supported by the 22-state Arab League. In contention is the plan's "right of return" provision, which would give millions of Arab refugees the right to live in Israel and eventually, through demographics, convert the Jewish state to an Arab country with a Jewish minority.

Many, including Middle East expert and historian Daniel Pipes, believe in the "no state" option – return the territories to Egypt and Jordan, who have peace treaties with Israel. Neither side, Dr. Pipes recently wrote, wishes for Israeli control to continue. And a Palestinian state has thus far been a "toxic brew of anarchy, ideological extremism, Jihadism and warlordism [that] led to complete Palestinian failure." Given, "the two populations' mutual antipathy, the prospect of a combined Israel-Palestine is as absurd as it seems." A shared Jordanian-Egyptian rule, he said, "worked tolerably well in the period 1948-1967."

Jordan's King Abdullah warns there will be a war in the Middle East by the end of next year if an Arab Palestinian state is not created this year. He noted in a Times of London interview, that "a third of the world does not recognize Israel." "Obama," he said, "is committed to the two-state solution now. He feels the urgency of the need to move today." The king believes President Obama will announce a peace plan after meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu. If peace efforts aren't successful, King Abdullah says, "we're going to have a war."

King Abdullah of Jordan says the world must see Israel for what it is. Israel is the first democracy in the Middle East and an ally of the United States. Yes, the Palestinian people have suffered. And so have the people of Israel proper. Israel has protected its people from murderous suicide attacks by implementing security fences, checkpoints and settlements. And it has taken the initiative for peace by withdrawing from Gaza.

After repeated rejections of peace plans during the Carter and Bush administrations, the Israelis turned over Gaza to its Israeli-Arab residents to self-rule. Gaza is no longer occupied today except, arguably, by Iran and al Qaeda. But what was the result of Israel's disengagement from Gaza? Iranian smuggling of weapons and foreign fighters into Gaza, a strengthening of the terror group Hamas, the destruction of businesses, and more rocket attacks upon Israel-proper.

The Jewish state pursued phased withdrawals, while the Palestinian Authority has failed to fulfill the security commitments agreed to in the 1993 Oslo Accords – to disarm and dismantle terrorist groups.

The Gaza experiment failed and resulted in an armed conflict – Operation Cast Lead – where Israel aimed to halt those illicit activities. The same failures should not be repeated in the West Bank. Iran and the U.S. State Department designated terror group Hamas should not be permitted to take over the West Bank. Consequently, more preparation of the territories is required for statehood, if that is the path taken.

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu stated Israel's viewpoint on May 4th, via a satellite broadcast to over 6,500 attendees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC, America's pro-Israeli lobby) annual conference. He spoke of a triple track to peace, consisting of political, security, and economic initiatives:

Political – "resume peace negotiations without delay and without any preconditions; the sooner, the better"

Security – "strengthen the security apparatus of the Palestinians"

Economic – "work together to remove as many obstacles as we can, to the advancement of the Palestinian economy"

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, too, that peace can not come without security. And, "for a final peace settlement to be achieved, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state."

As a man seeking peace and the right to life for his country – "a future that means that there is prosperity for all" – PM Netanyahu seeks rational thought and a common sense approach to peace in the region.

The challenge to the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab League is to embrace dual Jewish and Arab states living in peace as a shared goal with Israel and support the strengthening of Palestinian institutions. Failure to do so would demonstrate a lack of sincerity in achieving peace in the region and a lack of support for the Palestinian Authority.

"We can defy the skeptics; we can surprise the world."
– Benjamin Netanyahu Contributing Editor Linda Korrow is a freelance journalist and writer residing in New York City.

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