Don’t Pressure Israel


Regarding Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “’Who’s Best For Israel?’ Not A Simple Question” (Nov. 2), I cannot foresee a situation where it would be in Israel’s best interests for a United States president to pressure it into making concessions. That so-called “tough love” approach just doesn’t make sense.

First, there is simply no stable peace partner with whom Israel can negotiate. The Palestinian Authority is weak, and who knows where it will be several years from now. In any event, the PA seems unwilling to negotiate in good faith — its insistence on a “right of return” as a precondition to negotiations being a non-starter. And Hamas is a far less likely peace partner. Even if Hamas convincingly abandons terrorism (which will probably not happen anytime soon) it would not, in the foreseeable future, recognize Israel’s right to exist. Nothing, therefore, would be gained by pressuring Israel into making concessions, which would only serve to demonstrate to Israel’s enemies that it lost a good friend.

More to the point, why would any supporter of a strong Israel want Israel’s closest ally, the most powerful nation in the world, to press Israel to give up land and make other concessions that Israel believes are not in its best interests? Israel is in the best position to assess it own security needs. And there is no lack of good faith here. The Israeli people have proved time and again that they want peace. There was strong popular support in Israel, both for the Oslo peace accord and for former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s many concessions culminating in an agreement with Yasser Arafat — an agreement that was never consummated when Arafat realized that Israel was serious about peace.

Instead, Arafat commenced an intifada to prove that he remained faithful to the PLO’s articles calling for Israel’s destruction. Arafat was Israel’s best shot at a comprehensive peace agreement for a two-state solution, as disconcerting as that may seem. He was a powerful leader of a reasonably unified PLO, and Hamas wasn’t as much of a factor back then.

A two-state solution is in Israel’s best interests, and a one-state solution is not an acceptable alternative. The issue is whether the impetus for any concessions should come from the Israeli people, eager for a secure peace, or from a U.S. president eager to have a Mideast peace agreement as a notch on his (or her) belt. As a supporter of Israel, one who has faith in its people’s genuine desire to attain a secure peace, I opt for the former.