Why Israel Is Nervous

[Wall Street Journal] Elliott Abrams - If Iran is the most dangerous source of U.S.-Israel tension, the one most often discussed is settlements: The Obama administration has sought a total "freeze" on "Israeli settlement growth." The Israelis years ago agreed there would be no new settlements and no physical expansion of settlements, just building "up and in" inside already existing communities. Additional construction in settlements does not harm Palestinians, who in fact get most of the construction jobs. A recent International Monetary Fund report says [Israel's] "continuation of the relaxation of restrictions [in the West Bank] could result in real GDP growth of 7% for 2009 as a whole." That's a gross domestic product growth rate Americans would leap at, so what's this dispute about? It is about the subordination of reality to pre-existing theories. In this case, the theory is that every problem in the Middle East is related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Israelis notice that the Saudis have refused to take any "steps" toward Israel, and other Arab states are offering nothing approaching normal relations. Israelis have learned the hard way that reality cannot be ignored. Four wars and a constant battle against terrorism sobered them up. A policy based in realism would help the Palestinians prepare for an eventual state while we turn our energies toward the real challenge confronting the entire region: what is to be done about Iran. The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser overseeing Near East and North African affairs under President Bush from 2005 to 2009.

2009-08-03 06:00:00

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