Mideast Peace Starts with Respect

[Wall Street Journal] Ronald S. Lauder - As the Obama administration outlines its own prospectus for a comprehensive settlement to Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, it would do well to take note of some potential pitfalls. Rule No. 1: Respect the sovereignty of democratic allies. When free people in a democracy express their preferences, the United States should respect their opinions. The current administration should not try to impose ideas on allies like Israel. The administration would also do well to take heed of the Palestinian Authority's continued refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. A long-term settlement can only be forged on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. To deny the essence of the Zionist project - to rebuild the Jewish people's ancient homeland - is to call into question the seriousness of one's commitment to peace. The core historic reason for the conflict is the Arab world's longstanding rejection of Israel's existence. The two-state solution was accepted by Israel's pre-state leadership in 1947 when it agreed to the partition plan contained in UN General Assembly Resolution 181. The Arabs flatly rejected it. The recent rebuffs by Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of efforts by the Obama administration to promote a more conciliatory attitude to Israel offer a salient reminder that those who started this conflict may not yet be in a mood to end it, whatever their rhetoric to the contrary. No compromise can be made on Israel's right to exist inside secure borders unmolested by terrorist groups or threatened by belligerent states. An unambiguous strategy explaining precisely how Hamas and Hizbullah can be disarmed and how Iran can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons is of central importance to any peace plan. The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress.

2009-08-12 06:00:00

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