In a blink of an eye, the world has changed. But the visions of many world leaders remain myopic and mired in the past. Nothing more represents this truth than the stance that Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel has taken. In the face of a political tsunami in the Middle East, “BiBi” Netanyahu stands, despite statements otherwise, steadfastly against any realistic peace deal – i.e. a real “two state” solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
With each day of stalemate and of the added provocation of building new settlements, Israel is further condemned to a policy of constant war and conflict. The Israeli people deserve better. Almost every strategic analyst believes that every day Israel is more and more vulnerable to attack by advanced weapons. Every day, the country is more and more isolated not just from the Arab states but from the rest of the world.
It is not enough to castigate Hamas, which is deserved. If Israeli would offer a roadmap for peace and a fair solution for the Palestinians that involves joint concessions for peace, it would undercut all that Hamas lives on. Many Palestinians have shown they are willing to move towards a fair agreement.
But as long as Israel continues to build settlements in areas that the world says belong legally to the Palestinians, Netanyahu and other right-wing leaders jeopardize Israel’s future existence. New weaponry and political and demographic inevitabilities have the most dire consequences for Israel.
President Obama is also caught between U.S. domestic political realities regarding Israel and the certainty of a building regional–indeed global–conflagration. Our inability or unwillingness to take the initiative threatens both American and Israeli security.
In two recent speeches, his major Middle East address and his talk with AIPAC, Obama tried to show balance. He attempted to reach out to the emerging and powerful new Arab Street and at the same time to reaffirm America’s historical commitment to Israeli security. In normal times, that policy would be appropriate and wise. But these are not normal times.
Obama needs to embrace a roadmap to an Israeli-Palestinian peace and to drive down that road. The only path to a stable Middle East and secure Israel is the one Netanyahu opposes–a “two state” solution with security for both sides and concessions neither would otherwise want to make. Without such a map, the U.S. risks following Israel into the abyss.
By Harry C. Blaney III.