Middle East Policy

Two aspects of Bush Administration foreign policy in the Middle East have destroyed all credibility of the United States to influence events and achieve resolution of the serious and dangerous Middle East problems that threaten worldwide peace and economic stability.  The pronounced pro-Zionist Bush foreign policy shift has adversely affected Palestine. It is the direct consequence from the appointment of neocon ideologues to high level Administration positions during the first Bush term and has seriously and possibly permanently alienated the world's one billion Moslems.  The subsequent unilateral invasion of Iraq under false pretenses without the support of the United Nations and also the approval of neighboring countries has further greatly undermined the ability of the United States has to act as an honest mediator in resolving the various disputes in the region.  In short, no one in the Middle East trusts the U. S. any longer and it has been forced to rely on the good offices of our European allies, Russia, and China, to attempt to influence events in the region.

With respect to the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian dispute, the U. S. must recognize that its unwavering and unquestioning support of Israel has enabled pro-Zionist extremists to dominate and control Israeli (and U. S.) policy toward Palestine.  The assassination of Itzak Rabin by a Zionist fanatic and the deliberate provocation and the subsequent violent reaction of Palestinians resulting from Ariel Sharon's profaning the Dome of the Rock mosque have muted the influence of Israel's moderates. The quintupling of the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank during the years since the signing of the Camp David accords has further alienated the Palestinians and contributed to the support for Hamas. Recent Israeli annexation of 250 acres of Palestinian territory while our Secretary State was attempting to negotiate a settlement of this long standing dispute is just one more event to enure that a settlement is not achieved.  Many years ago, David Ben Gurion said: "If I were an Arab leader, I would never come to terms with Israel.  That is natural: we have taken their country. We came from Israel a long time ago, but what is that to them?  AntiSemitism - was that their fault?  They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.  Why should they accept that?" A former Israeli Foreign Minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami has said that the international community must impose a solution since the Arabs and Israelis are incapable of reaching one (Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: the Israeli-Arab Tragedy, Oxford University, 354 p, $30).  The protest two years ago by 450,000 Israelis over the continuing high cost of living in a perpetual state of war society indicates that a peaceful resolution of the hostilities with the Palestinians has strong public support and cannot be continually delayed.

If the United States is truly serious about resolving the Palestine crisis, it should privately tell Israel that it will suspend all further foreign and military aid unless Israel orders a permanent moratorium on all further settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  It must be remembered that there are two United Nations resolutions regarding the rights of return and a separate state for the Palestinians that have not been followed. The recently failed efforts of the “Quartet” to achieve agreement were just another of many past unsuccessful efforts to resolve the impasse..  If the U. S. doesn’t use the threat of and/or resorting to the imposition of the discontinuance of its financial and military support of Israel to achieve a permanent solution to the ongoing 66 year-long dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, unending hostilities will continue indefinitely. The withheld aid should be placed into an escrow account to fund the population relocation and property transfers to be negotiated as part of the overall treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. After the aid moratorium is in effect, then quiet diplomatic overtures to the Hamas leadership and Fatah should begin using the good offices of a neutral country such as Switzerland. Eventually, a Geneva conference hosted by that country with United Nations sponsorship should work out the terms of a permanent peace settlement between Israel and Palestine.   The United States should officially remain on the sideline, but publicly state that it is fully supportive of the dispute resolution efforts by a neutral country in Geneva.  In time, perhaps, with strong international cooperation and support, a successful resolution of the Palestine dispute will enable the United States to gradually regain its lost prestige, esteem and good standing with the rest of the world.

Finally, with respect to the temporarily mitigated crisis brewing over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the U. S. and it allies must realize the insecurity present in Iran over the former Bush Administration's name calling (member of the Axis of Evil) and past hostile talk about "all options remain open".  Not mentioned is the near certainty that Israel has nuclear weapons, which the U.S. and its allies conveniently ignore although the Iranians are certainly aware of their likely existence.  North Korea is treated with great deference, a fact that is quite obvious to the Iranians.  The present dangerous volatile situation in the Middle East could have profound adverse impact on the entire region and elsewhere if the current conflict in Syria and/or the violent instability in Iraq and Lebanon erupt into an uncontrollable regional conflict.  The consequences of probable major oil export interruptions from the Middle East would be catastrophic for the entire world economy.  Permanent resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute would greatly ease tensions in the region. An immediate Congressional review focused upon U. S. Middle Eastern policy should be initiated to redirect U. S policy to attempt to alleviate the current perilous and potentially disastrous uncontrolled situation in the entire region.

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