Obama Admin. Is Cooling U.S/Israel Relationship
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has opposed and expressed concern over the various pressures, and hints of future consequences if Israel does not concede to these pressures to make concessions, to an unreconstructed, terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian Authority (PA) of Fatahs Mahmoud Abbas. It has pointed to the many indications that the Obama Administration is deliberately cooling relations with Israel.
Since entering office in January, the Obama Administration has demanded a complete freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, while insisting both legal and illegal Arab construction in these areas be permitted to proceed; it has repeatedly expressed an intention to establish a Palestinian state, even though such a state could not possibly be, under existing conditions, peaceful or committed to peace with Israel; it has linked the looming Iranian nuclear threat with the Israeli/Palestinian hostilities, indicating that it will do less than it would otherwise do to stop Iran if Israel does not proceed with further concessions to Abbas PA; it has refused to provide a timetable for its negotiations with Iran on Irans continuing development of nuclear weapons; and it has bluntly warned Israel not to strike at Irans nuclear development facilities while remaining vague and open-ended about dealing with the threat Iran poses.
Demanding a complete freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem:
· President Obama: 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 (Transcript of press conference with President Obama and PM Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009).
· Secretary Clinton: First, we want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth any kind of settlement activity. That is what the President has called for. We also are going to be pushing for a two-state solution which, by its very name, implies borders that have to be agreed to. And we expect to see two states living side by side, a state for the Palestinians that will be sovereign and within which the Palestinians will have the authorities that come with being in charge of a state with respect to such activities as settlements. So its really a two-step effort here. We want to see a stop now, and then, as part of this intensive engagement that Senator Mitchell is leading for us, we want to move toward a two-state solution with borders for the Palestinians (Interview With Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera, State Department, Washington D.C., May 19, 2009).
Supporting creation of a Palestinian state:
· President Obama: 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 (Transcript of press conference with President Obama and PM Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009).
· Secretary Clinton: the President underscored our commitment to a two-state solution and also called for a stop to the settlements. We have made that very clear. I reinforced that last night at a dinner that I hosted for Prime Minister Netanyahu (Interview With Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera, State Department, Washington D.C., May 19, 2009).
· Chief of Staff Emanuel: In the next four years there is going to be a permanent-status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister [of Israel] (Gil Hoffman, Likud: US meddling in Israeli politics, Jerusalem Post, June 2, 2009).
Linking U.S. efforts to combat the looming Iranian nuclear threat with the Israeli/Palestinian hostilities:
· President Obama: 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 (Transcript of press conference with President Obama and PM Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009).
· Secretary Clinton: For Israel to get the kind of strong support its looking for vis-a-vis Iran it cant stay on the sideline with respect to the Palestinian and the peace efforts, that they go hand-in-hand [every Arab official she has met] wants very much to support the strongest possible policy toward Iran [but] they believe that Israels willingness to reenter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran (Glenn Kessler, Clinton counters Israeli stance on Palestinians and Iran, Washington Post, April 24, 2009).
· Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: Relations between Israel and the U.S. are unbreakable, Emanuel said before a gathering of 350 AIPAC donors, adding that this is the moment of truth for Israel and the Palestinians. He also declared that Iran is the number-one threat to the Middle East, and noted that it is hard to make progress wherever Tehran is involved in the Middle East. Emanuel called for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation if Iran is to be countered effectively. (Barak Ravid and Natasha Mosgovaya, Obama gets tougher with Israel on Palestinians, Iran, Haaretz, May 5, 2009).
Strong warnings to Israel not to strike militarily at Iran:
· Vice-President Biden: [Asked whether he was concerned that the Israeli government might strike Iranian nuclear facilities] I dont believe Prime Minister Netanyahu would do that. I think he would be ill advised to do that (Paul Richter, Biden warns Israel off any attack on Iran, Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2009).
· CIA Director Panetta: Visited Israel in early May warn its leaders not to launch a surprise attack on Iran without notifying the US Administration (James Hider, Leon Panetta’s mission to stop Israel bombing Iranian nuclear plant, Times [London], May 10, 2009).
Not setting a timetable for negotiations with Iran:
· President Obama: 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 (Transcript of press conference with President Obama and PM Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We view the mounting pressure upon Israel by this Administration with deep concern. It is all the more troubling in view of President Obamas pre-election commitments in his AIPAC speech to do everything everything to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and committing himself to an undivided Jerusalem.
Discussing further Israeli territorial and others concessions should be conditional on Abbas PA arresting terrorists, outlawing terrorist groups, ending the incitement to hatred and murder against Israel in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps and the transforming of Palestinian society into one that opposes terrorism and accepts the legitimacy of Israels continued existence as a Jewish state. In the absence of this, it is wholly premature to be even discussing the creation of a Palestinian state, let alone promoting it, with pressure on Israel to agree to it into the bargain.
Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one, so the Obama Administrations insistence on a construction freeze would remain inappropriate even if the prospect of genuine peace negotiations with a truly peaceful Palestinian partner were possible. Why may not 300,000 Jews live among 2 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria while 1.2 million Arabs live among 5 million Jews in Israel? No peace can be built on the notion that the biblical, historical and religious heartland of the Jewish people, or any territory for that matter, must be judenrein.
Similarly, there is no legitimate place for U.S. pressure on Israel to make concessions to the PA by reference to the looming threat posed by Iran. This linkage is both illogical and hostile to Israel. 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.
Moreover, on one hand, President Obama 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 they do in countering the Iranian threat upon Israel making major concessions to the existing, unreconstructed PA terror regime.
Either Iran poses a major security threat to the U.S. and others, or it doesnt. If it does and President Obama has said that 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.
We urge American Jewish organizations of whatever hue of political opinion to protest the mounting pressure upon Israel and its government.