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The Pressure Over Palestine

Elliott Abrams addresses the Israeli diplomatic quandary discussed in today's New York Times.

2:34 PM, Apr 3, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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In today's New York Times, there's an article, "In Israel, Time for Peace Offer May Run Out," that discusses the mounting pressure to recognize Palestine as a state:

With revolutionary fervor sweeping the Middle East, Israel is under mounting pressure to make a far-reaching offer to the Palestinians or face a United Nations vote welcoming the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has been steadily building support for such a resolution in September, a move that could place Israel into a diplomatic vise. Israel would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations member, land it has controlled and settled for more than four decades and some of which it expects to keep in any two-state solution.

“We are facing a diplomatic-political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September,” said Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, at a conference in Tel Aviv last month. “It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action.” He added, “Paralysis, rhetoric, inaction will deepen the isolation of Israel.”

Almost as if he had anticipated the article, Elliott Abrams has an article in this week's issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD on "How Israel should handle pressure for a Palestinian state":

With the Great Revolt of 2011 shaking Arab capitals, Israel briefly seemed a Middle Eastern Switzerland when March began. There were no demonstrations, there was no dictator to protest, and there had been three years without terror. Gone were the once omnipresent security guards at restaurants, challenging you before you entered with a careful look and the question “Do you have a weapon?” Then on March 11, terrorists savagely murdered five members of a family in the settlement of Itamar, and on March 24, a Palestinian bomber brought back the old days: one dead, dozens wounded at a bus stop in Jerusalem. Israel’s short vacation from history had ended.

That vacation had been partial, to be sure. Hamas and other terrorist groups had periodically lobbed rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, though here too the pace and range of the shots was suddenly climbing. And no doubt many terrorist attacks were foiled by steady police work. But the confrontation with the Palestinians was stalled, frozen, during the two Obama years. The leader of the PLO, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has spent these years touring the world, avoiding any serious engagement with Israel. He has been a happy man: Travel is less stressful than the difficult work of state-building, which is left to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; the lack of negotiations means Abbas avoids the controversial compromises a genuine negotiation would entail; and his refusal to negotiate has been arranged and defended by the Obama Doctrine that “settlement activity” is the true obstacle to Middle East peace. For it has been American policy since January 20, 2009, that Palestinians need not come to the table unless there is a 100 percent Israeli construction freeze in Jerusalem and the settlements.

The Obama administration abandoned that doctrine last November, and its champion, George Mitchell, ever since has been an invisible man. No policy has been proposed by the White House to replace its calamitous belief in the construction freeze delusion, at least not yet. But Israelis are sure something is around the corner and are debating whether to wait—or to act.

Be sure and read the whole thing. And if you want to continue to be privy to the uncanny prescience of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, be sure and subscribe.

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