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The Israeli Insult

cartoon by Mike Keefe

President Obama recently conceded that he may have overestimated his ability to faciliate progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is right to feel this way. Last week, VP Biden sat down to dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. Hours after the hopeful meal, where Biden reiterated American support for Israeli security, Israel’s Interior Ministry announced 1,600 new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem. The timing of the announcement was not only inopportune, but was a clear symbol of the arrogance and obstinacy of a segment of the Israeli government. Instead of blindly supporting Israel, America should treat the relationship like a business partnership. If our partner is dragging down progress and refusing to recognize good strategy, this must be dealt with. Obama should communicate to the Israelis that America will not continue to support Israel without Israeli concessions and sincere negotiations.

The U.S. has stood firmly with Israel as a clear defender of Israeli sovereignty and security. Of course, there are strategic roots to America’s relationship with Israel, but America has also suffered consequences of this policy. America’s unwavering support of Israel has been cited as a main cause of terrorist acts against America and hatred in the Muslim world of the U.S. The U.S. should never cave to threats from terrorist extremists, but we should understand the intricacies and consequences of our relationship with Israel. A more even-keeled approach to Israel-Palestinian negotiations is necessary.

From the American perspective, Israeli’s far right-wing is a barrier to progress in the region. Palestinians have a clear right to a land-sharing agreement. It is an international embarrassment that the stateless population has lived under a refugee status for so long. The lack of progress and opportunity helped carry Hamas to electoral power in the Gaza strip. No matter what, the road to a resolution will be rough. Rockets will not cease, setbacks will occur, and harsh words will fly. Still, both sides must strive to manage their extremist fringes or both will lose. America must seek to empower the mainstream segments of both governments or negotiations will continue to be fruitless.

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