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What would the U.S. do if the Palestinians skip peace negotiations and just declare a state?
The Palestinians, despite all efforts of the Obama administration, have steadfastly resisted entering into serious peace negotiations with Israel. Now, to circumvent negotiations, they are threatening to declare a state unilaterally and then go to the United Nations Security Council or the General Assembly for ratification.
In this week's Hotline, the ever-articulate John Bolton warns of a possible United States abstention on a United Nations Security Council resolution affirming a Palestinian state. Such U.N. support would effectively save the Palestinians the trouble of negotiations on a two-state solution with Israel, and perhaps even be a ploy to force Israel to accept 1967 cease-fire lines as its borders.
Clearly such a development would not bode well for Israel's security. However, the Obama administration recently offered Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu an assurance that the U.S. would block any Palestinian attempt to obtain international recognition of statehood. Naturally, in order to get this assurance, Israel must pay a price---yet another Israeli building freeze in the West Bank (though only for 90 days and not in Jerusalem).
President Obama's response to this new deal was, "I think it is promising." Promising? Thanks to Mr. Obama, the two sides are not even speaking to one another, yet he considers it promising that his strong-arming of Israel may, possibly, bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table, at least for a period of time.
Wouldn't it be promising if President Obama could persuade the Palestinians to publicly acknowledge Israel's right to exist? Or get the Palestinians to announce that they are giving up the unrealistic notion of the right of return of refugees' relatives?
As ambivalent as Mr. Obama has been in supporting Israel, another world leader just to our north has shown himself to be avidly pro-Israel. In a bold speech at an anti-Semitism conference, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently said:
"Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, [the attack on Israel's legitimacy] targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so . . . We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism . . . But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand . . . As long as I am prime minister . . . Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost."
What an amazing breath of fresh air. As the peace process hobbles along, President Obama can learn both from Prime Minister Harper and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. Mr. Harper's words should convince him of the righteousness of Israel's cause. Mr. Bolton's article, below, should fortify him for dealing with the rogue notions of the Palestinians about the best way to achieve statehood.
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