Tough Love Needed


The many views expressed from the left to the right as to what the current “unrest in the Middle East” means for Israeli-Palestinian peace omit the most important lesson to be learned (again) about the region: The status quo, which is comfortable one day, can be upended the next (“Mideast Unrest Hardening Positions In Community,” Feb. 18).

Recent (Turkey) and older (Iran) events in the Middle East should also show Israel that allies can pull away or even become antagonists.

These factors, plus Iran’s growing influence in the region (Lebanon and Iraq) and the increasing support for the global campaign to delegitimize Israel, lead to an unavoidable conclusion: Time for achieving a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is running out. If it does, consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians — and for America’s national interests in the Middle East — would be dire.

Polls released in December by the Brookings Institution show that 62 percent of Jewish Israelis want their government to do more to promote a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians and that 72 percent of Americans support the Obama administration’s mediation efforts to resolve the conflict.

President Barack Obama must now deliver tough love messages to both sides’ leaders: to Mahmoud Abbas — return to the negotiating table; to Benjamin Netanyahu — stop building Jewish homes and demolishing Arab residences in east Jerusalem to demonstrate your commitment to a negotiated two-state solution.

The Obama administration just vetoed the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement building as illegal, even though the U.S. was the only country voting against it and even though this vote contradicts U.S. policy. This is another reason why Netanyahu should accede to the administration’s wishes to halt building in east Jerusalem.