Keeping Israel honest: an attainable peace plan
By Julian Weiss, Staff Columnist
Never in the history of the State of Israel has peace with Palestine been so attainable. The conservative government under Benjamin Netanyahu may seek to disrupt negotiations by bullying from across the aisle, but the United States can point Israel in the right direction. Peace between Israel and the Arab states would alleviate a significant security threat in the Middle East.
America has significant influence over Israeli policy, and the Obama administration should use this leverage to coerce Israel to seriously consider the two-state solution with Palestine.
The most important goal of US foreign policy is security. Since its establishment, Israel has destabilized the region by harassing its neighbors and by occupying the Palestinian lands. This harassment was not unwarranted; Israel’s Arab neighbors have talked about wiping the nation off the face of the map for decades. The blame game for who is at fault for the currently dismal relationship between Israel and its neighbors will lead nowhere. If there is ever going to be any progress on this issue, both sides have to be willing to move forward.
The United States can pressure Israel and Palestine to come to an agreement. Only when that agreement is made can both sides begin to respect each other, and the high tensions which cause an unhealthy security situation in the Levant can be overcome.
The US gives three billion dollars a year to Israel. By threatening to cut this funding in exchange for concessions with Palestine, Israel would be forced to choose between an all-expenses paid relationship with the United States or continuing their imperialist campaign.
The European Union has already put embargoes to the tune of five billion dollars on the table to get Israel to follow through with the peace talks. These economic sanctions come in response to continued Israeli attempts to get Palestine to leave the negotiations. Israel has supported the construction of hundreds of homes in the West Bank on land that belongs to Palestine according to the 1967 borders, the basis of current negotiations.
In the past week, Israel has raided the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and evicted Palestinian protesters from a site in the West Bank. Some argue that the continuation of raids and settlement building shows Israel is not taking the negotiations seriously.
If the Palestine-Israel dispute is not settled, Israel will continue to be a sore spot in American relations with the Arab states. For more than sixty years, Israel has passed the issue down the line, deciding that continual warfare and military spending could be a substitute for peace. Now a legitimate Palestinian state is sitting at the negotiating table.
The Arab states have agreed to accept Israel as a state (although not a Jewish state) if they come to terms with Palestine. The international community supports a two state solution. Time is running out for Kerry and the Obama administration to make a serious effort to keep Israel honest at the negotiation table, while working with Palestine and the Arab states to create a sustainable security environment in the Middle East.