WASHINGTON (JTA) — The view that U.S.-Israel ties rest on resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians must be rejected, said the executive director of AIPAC.
"This specious and insidious argument is wrong, it is dangerous and we must refute it," Howard Kohr said Monday at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington.
Kohr was referring to reports over the past week, often exaggerated, that military leaders believe the failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is endangering American security.
In congressional testimony last week, Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, said "perception" of U.S. favoritism for Israel was one of the challenges that the United States faces in the Middle East, but he did not suggest any specific policy prescriptions for solving the conflict.
Kohr said the United States and Israel are friends and "should treat each other as such."
"It is time to reduce the tension, time to set aside the past week and pledge to work to solve problems together," he said, and that "when disagreements inevitably arise, they should be resolved privately as befitting close allies."
Kohr said that "Jerusalem is not a settlement. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel."
The AIPAC leader also proposed a four-point plan to counter the "concerted campaign to deligitimize Israel" and help the Jewish state "assume its rightful place" in the community of nations.
The proposal included Israel becoming a full-fledged member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; expanding and enhancing Israel’s role
in NATO; getting Israel a seat on the United Nations Security Council; and having the United States urge all its allies to recognize Israel — such as saying that if a country wants to enter into a free-trade agreement with the U.S., it must drop the Arab League boycott of Israel.