Leaning on Israel won’t bring Middle East peace

THE OKLAHOMAN EDITORIAL Modified: May 8, 2009 at 4:46 am •  Published: May 8, 2009
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IT’S understandable a new U.S. president coming into office, frustrated by the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, might figure the key to breaking the impasse is getting tougher with Israel. That’s where President Barack Obama and his administration seem to be heading.

Vice President Joe Biden talked tough this week at a Washington meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the big pro-Israel lobbying group. "Israel has to work toward a two-state solution,” Biden said, suggesting Israel hasn’t been doing so.

Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israel risks losing Arab support for combating threats from Iran if it rejects peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The London Times’ online edition reports that National Security Adviser James Jones told a European foreign minister the White House is ready to lean on Israel. "The new administration will convince Israel to compromise on the Palestinian question,” Jones reportedly wrote in a confidential telegram. "We will not push Israel under the wheels of a bus, but we will be more forceful toward Israel” than the Bush administration.

This fits with an administration worldview, unfolding since Obama’s inauguration, that the United States is to blame for intractable global problems. Or, in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, blame goes to America’s proxy, Israel.

Certainly the Obama administration views the election of a more conservative Israeli government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with trepidation.


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