In my post below entitled "The Kind of Friend Israel Needs by Yossi Beilin," I referred to Beilin's article in The Forward in which he criticized Bush for, in part, allowing Israel at the Annapolis summit "not to put on the table any of of the core issues of its conflict with the Palestinians, thereby failing to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, which promises normal relations between the Arab world and Israel if Jerusalem makes peace with its neighbors." Beilin states that the next president "will succeed...if he understands that the joint interest of his country and Israel is reaching peace between Israel and its neighbors." He concludes, "Israel's true friend, in other words, is no Bush. It is, rather, a friend of peace in the Middle East."
Nicholas Kristof, writing in The New York Times (7/24/08), makes a similar point in his commentary "Tough Love For Israel?" Following Barack Obama's recent trip to the Middle East, Kristof reflects that the next president must be more engaged in Middle East peacemaking, including taking a firm stance on Israeli policies that do not help the peace process:
"If Israel were to stop the settlements, ease the checkpoints, allow people in and out more freely and negotiate more enthusiastically with Syria over the Golan Heights and with the Arab countries on the basis of the Saudi peace proposal, then peace might still elude the region. But Israel would at least be doing everything possible to secure its long term future, rather than bolstering Hamas.
"If there is no two-state solution, there will be a one-state solution–and given demographic trends, that will mean either the end of Israeli democracy or the end of the Jewish state. Zionists should be absolutely clamoring for a Palestinian state.
"...the failures of Palestinian leadership have been legion. At the moment, though, Israel has its most reasonable partner ever–Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas–and it is undermining him with its checkpoints and new settlement construction.
"Peace-making invariably involves exasperating and intransigent antagonists and unequal steps, just as it did in the decades in which Britain struggled to end terrorism emanating from Northern Ireland. But London never ordered air strikes on Sinn Fein or walled in Catholic neighborhoods. Over time, Britain's extraordinary restraint slowly changed attitudes so as to make the eventual peace impossible.
"I hope that Mr. Obama, as a candidate or as a president, will be a true enough friend of Israel to say all this, warmly but firmly."
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