(Illustration by Alexander Hunter, The Washington Times)
The collapse of President Obama's efforts to force a "negotiated" settlement between Israel and the Palestinians should prompt a thorough rethinking of his administration's entire Middle East strategy.
The chances of the initiative, which is predicated far more on ideology and illusion than on the region's hard realities, were always essentially negligible. While Mr. Obama's impending failure will cost us dearly because it fosters the perception of American impotence and incompetence, there are important lessons to be learned.
Although Mr. Obama will almost certainly not rethink his policies, it is entirely appropriate for others to recalibrate our objectives in the Israel-Palestinian dispute, so the next president will not make the same mistakes.
For more than two decades, U.S. policymakers have generally acceded to Palestinian insistence that a new state be created for them, stitching together the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These territories have no particular history either of national identity or of economic interdependence. They are simply bits and pieces of the collapsed Ottoman Empire and the failed League of Nations' post-World War I mandate system.
The only logic underlying the demand for a Palestinian state is the political imperative of Israel's opponents to weaken and encircle the Jewish state, thereby minimizing its potential to establish secure and defensible borders. The cruelest irony is that by using the Palestinian people as the tip of the spear against Israel, their supposed advocates have caused the Palestinians extensive suffering. Their economic well-being, their potential for development and the prospect of living under a noncorrupt, representative government have been lost in the shuffle of challenging Israel's very right to exist.
As long as Washington's diplomatic objective is the "two-state solution" — Israel and "Palestine" — the fundamental contradiction between this aspiration and the reality on the ground will ensure it never comes into being. There simply cannot be "two states living side by side in peace and security" when one of the "states," for the foreseeable future, cannot meet the basic, practical requirements for entering into and upholding international commitments, including, unfortunately, the glaring lack of its own legitimacy.
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- Judy Chaffee
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