ZOA Praises Obama For Supporting Israel As Jewish State
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised aspects of President Obamas reassertion of the paramountcy of Israels security and the preservation of Israel as an independent Jewish state, but expressed deep concern at his open-ended approach to negotiating with Iran over its continuing drive to obtain nuclear weapons. It has also expressed deep concern that President Obama continues to promote Palestinian statehood while Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah party (strongly supported by Palestinian opinion) refuse to accept Israel as Jewish state and engage in continued terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder against Israel. In this context, the ZOA is also critical that President Obama has demanded that Israel stop building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, since it would be simply a racist measure to stop Jews building homes while Arabs may continue building homes. Such a halt on building is also something not required by international law or past agreements signed with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Key points in President Obamas remarks at joint press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu:
· Calling for stopping all construction on Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria: Now, Israel is going to have to take some difficult steps as well. And I shared with the prime minister the fact that under the road map, under Annapolis, there is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. Thats a difficult issue. I recognize that. But its an important one, and it has to be addressed.
· Reiterating call for Palestinian statehood:
it is, I believe, in the interests not only of the Palestinians but also the Israelis and the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security. We have seen progress stalled on this front. And I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure. That means that all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that theyve previously agreed to. Those obligations were outlined in the road map. They were discussed extensively in Annapolis
· Reiterating linkage between dealing with Iranian issue and progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track:
there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process
To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians — between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.
· Not setting a timetable for negotiations with Iran: I dont want to set an artificial deadline
the one thing were also aware of is the fact that the history, at least, of negotiations with Iran is that there is a lot of talk, but not always action that follows
Thats something, obviously, Israel is concerned about, but its also an issue of concern for the United States and for the international community as a whole
We should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction.
· The Iranian nuclear danger:
Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and a threat to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilizing in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that would be extraordinarily dangerous for all concerned, including for Iran. We are engaged in a process to reach out to Iran and persuade them that it is not in their interest to pursue a nuclear weapon and that they should change course. But I assured the prime minister that we are not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions, in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious
the worst danger we face is that Iran would develop nuclear military capabilities. Iran openly calls for our destruction, which is unacceptable (inaudible). It threatens the moderate Arab regimes in the Middle East. It threatens US interests worldwide.
· Reaffirming importance of Israeli security: Israels security is paramount
It is in US national security interests to assure that Israels security as a (sic) independent Jewish state is maintained
[to take action] that stops the terrorist attacks that have been such a source of pain and hardship, and that we can stop rocket attacks on Israel
I was along the border in Sderot, and saw the evidence of weapons that had been rained down on the heads of innocents in those Israeli cities. And thats unacceptable. So weve got to work with the Egyptians to deal with the smuggling of weapons
there is a recognition that the Palestinians are going to have to do a better job providing the kinds of security assurances that Israelis would need to achieve a two-state solution (Transcript of press conference with President Obama and PM Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We view with deep misgivings and concern several of President Obamas statements arising from his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. While we acknowledge that President Obama on several occasions in his press conference spoke of the high importance he attaches to Israeli security and the need for Palestinian performance, for their part, in providing it, his reiterated call for creating a Palestinian state before there has in fact been any acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state by the Palestinian leadership and society, an end to support for terrorist groups and the continued incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled mosques, media, schools and youth camps in fact constitutes a great danger for Israel. The ZOA has made these points in a full page advertisement placed in newspapers across the country.
The entire Oslo process and its aftermath is replete with U.S. leaders expressing the need for Palestinians to end terror and incitement but, 16 years later, the process continues despite the complete absence of performance. It is illogical, unjust and dangerous for President Obama to be demanding major, one-sided land concessions from Israel and asking nothing specific or tangible of the PA.
In this context, President Obamas troubling reiteration of his call for a Palestinian state is the continuation of an old, failed policy. Israel did not accept the Roadmap except on condition that Palestinians carry out their obligations under it, none of which they have fulfilled. His call for a total cessation of building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria simply penalizes Jews, because they are Jews, from living in the ancestral heartland of the Jewish people. No peace can be produced by a policy of insisting that Judea and Samaria be judenrein. Arabs can build homes in Israel. Why cannot Jews build homes in Judea and Samaria? If a Palestinian state were ever to be created, why is the Obama Administration endorsing the racist Palestinian/Arab position that it must be devoid of Jews?
We are talking here of a PA that refuses to even depict Israel on PA maps and atlases; that continues to permit incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Israel in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps; that does not arrest and jail terrorists or outlaw terrorist groups; that retains the Fatah Constitution with its calls for terrorism and Israels destruction; and which honors terrorists like George Habash and Samir Kuntar. There has never been Palestinian compliance with their major obligations under written agreements. To say that the PA is committed to peace with this record after 16 years makes as much sense as saying that a man who has remained engaged for 16 years is serious about marrying his fiancée.
The problem is not confined to the Palestinian leadership. The ZOA has countless times drawn attention to numerous polls showing Palestinian majority rejection of Israel and support for terrorism. Two examples: a February 2009 Jerusalem Media & Communications Center poll found that Palestinians support terror attacks on Jews by 55 percent 37 percent. A September 2008 Palestinian Center for Policy Research poll found that only 13 percent of Palestinians support educating Palestinians for peace.
Negotiating further land concessions by Israel should be conditional on ending all these things and transforming Palestinian society. In the absence of this, ZOA has argued that it is wholly premature to be even discussing the creation of a Palestinian state, let alone promoting it.
We are also immensely troubled by the linkage which the President has reaffirmed between the Iranian issue and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Arab states that are genuinely threatened by the looming Iranian nuclear threat will need no inducement to cooperate with America in our efforts to prevent Iran from manufacturing these weapons. Weakening or pressuring Israel will not deter Iran. It is simply unconscionable that Israeli concessions to an unreconstructed PA are being turned into a prerequisite for American action to prevent the looming Iranian nuclear threat, which for Israel is an existential threat.
President Obama has also presented us with an illogical, even baffling, set of propositions on confronting Iran. On one hand, he and other Administration officials have rightly observed that a nuclear-armed Iran poses a serious threat to security of the United States and other Western nations, not only Israel. Yet on the other hand, he and his officials are saying that the Administration will at least to some extent condition what it does in countering the Iranian threat upon Israel making various major concessions to the existing, unreconstructed PA terror regime. Now, either Iran poses a major security threat to the U.S. and others, or it doesnt. If it does, there can be no reason or logic for the Obama Administration to do less than everything to stop Iran and, remember, President Obama has repeatedly said he will do everything to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power.