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What had I proposed? That the Republicans recognize that the Jews of Israel have rights.
Now I know that this is a novel proposition, as the world is fond of talking about Israeli obligations and Israeli malfeasance. What I didn’t know is how much anxiety this generates in some quarters and how radical a divergence from normative political thinking this is perceived as being.
If we are going to speak about pressure on Israel, we must look at the messages President Obama has been delivering for almost four years now. Always and ever, the onus has been on Israel. And it is precisely this pressure that generates the constraints with which Netanyahu must contend.
Israel was supposed to freeze settlement construction in order to bring Abbas to the table. This had not been a PA demand until Obama advanced it as a condition for starting negotiations. And Israel was told by the president that negotiations would have to start with the premise that the border of a Palestinian state would be the ’67 line, with adjustments. Never mind that there is a Security Council resolution that determined that this would not provide Israel with a secure border. Israel has been pressured, as well, to make “confidence building” gestures to the PA, via such acts as releasing prisoners.
The absolute given in all circumstances has been the assumption that a Palestinian state would ultimately be founded in most or all of Judea and Samaria. Never mind that the PA still utilizes school books that praise jihad and leave Israel off its maps; or that it honors terrorists on a regular basis; or that it is in “unity” negotiations with the terrorist Hamas. Israel is supposed to keep trying.
Now let’s look at the message that would be delivered by Republicans prepared to say that Israel has the right to settle in Judea and Samaria:
It would tell the prime minister that, instead of feeling coerced—boxed into one politically correct scenario—he is finally being provided with options:
Republican recognition of Israeli rights would not obligate Israel to adopt any particular policy. Simply because you have the right to do something does not mean you must do it. Decisions regarding the Levy Report would remain in the hands of the Israeli government, and Binyamin Netanyahu might still table it.
However, should he wish to officially accept the findings of the report, or, even more, advance settlement in Judea and Samaria in accordance with Israel’s rights, he would know that some political elements in the US—possibly the predominant political elements—would be supportive. Obama is fond of saying that, “We have Israel’s back.” But here it would truly be the case.
This assurance would remove some of the constraints the prime minister now feels as he makes his decisions. He would have greater freedom to make choices based on what is truly best for Israel.
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