For Israel and America, a Disagreement, Not a Crisis

(New York Times) Michael B. Oren - Even the closest allies can sometimes disagree. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no desire during a vice presidential visit to highlight longstanding differences between the U.S. and Israel on building on the other side of the 1949 armistice line that once divided Jerusalem. The prime minister repeatedly apologized for the timing of the announcement and pledged to prevent such embarrassing incidents from recurring. In reply, the Obama administration asked Israel to reaffirm its commitment to the peace process and to its bilateral relations with the U.S. Israel is dedicated to both. Israel's policy on Jerusalem is not Mr. Netanyahu's alone, but was also that of former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Golda Meir - in fact of every Israeli government going back to the city's reunification in 1967. Consistently, Israel has held that Jerusalem should remain its undivided capital and that both Jews and Arabs have the right to build anywhere in the city. Israel's policy on Jerusalem did not preclude the conclusion of peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. Nor did it prevent the Palestinians from negotiating with Israel for more than 15 years after the Oslo accords of 1993. Consistently, Israelis have demonstrated remarkable flexibility as well as generosity to any Arab leader genuinely offering peace. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S.

2010-03-18 09:52:57

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