America's Latest Efforts Merely Entrenched Al-Qaeda in Gaza

[Wall Street Journal] Dore Gold - The U.S. and other Western powers are pushing for a new Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough to help contain Iran and undercut the appeal of al-Qaeda and radical Islam. The underlying assumption is that radical Islam has something do to with Israel-related political grievances. But is this really the case? In August 2005, the U.S. and its Western allies thought that Israel's Gaza pullout would establish the foundations of a Palestinian state and thus reduce the flames of radical Islamic rage. Instead they got an al-Qaeda sanctuary on the shores of the Mediterranean. What the Gaza pullout showed was that mishandling the Israeli-Palestinian issue can exacerbate the threat of radical Islam, especially if it deepens the sense in radical Islamic circles that their military efforts have paid off. The gasoline fueling al-Qaeda has been its sense of victory, not political grievances. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration devoted more time to Arab-Israeli diplomacy than most of its predecessors, arranging numerous diplomatic agreements. But al-Qaeda only grew in strength. In other words, there was no correlation between U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to ameliorate the grievances voiced by radical Islamic groups and the appeal of al-Qaeda. Today, leading Western diplomats have been praising the Arab League Peace Initiative - based on the 2002 Saudi Plan - which calls on Israel to fully withdraw to the pre-1967 lines (i.e., leave the Golan Heights and entire West Bank) in exchange for "normal relations" with the Arab world. The Saudi Plan re-divides Jerusalem. Pushing Israel back to the pre-1967 lines will not satisfy al-Qaeda, nor will it bring peace. Right now, what the Palestinians need is help to build a stable civil society with governing institutions that work, not a return to the ceremonial diplomacy of the 1990s. The writer, Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1997-99, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City (Regnery, 2007).

2007-08-13 01:00:00

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