President Barack Obama, acting alone, can extricate Palestine, Israel and the United States from the seemingly inescapable quagmire in which all three are sinking, says former US Congressman Paul Findley.
Neither Congress, Palestine, nor Israel is able and willing to act. To make peace possible, Obama must issue an executive order suspending all types of US aid to Israel and Palestine until a two-state solution is effected.
This powerful act of ‘tough love’ will promptly bring Israel unprecedented peace and security at home and abroad. It will also right a terrible wrong by rescuing Palestinians from nearly a half-century of oppression. But Obama must act promptly as his power may soon dwindle.
Years ago I heard a congressional colleague challenge famous Israeli General Moshe Dayan: “General, our government gives Israel money, arms and advice. Your government accepts the money and arms but rejects the advice. If our government offered money and arms only if Israel accepted the advice, what would your government do?” Without hesitation, Dayan responded, “We would accept your advice.”
Would Israel’s answer today be the same as Dayan predicted? The answer is yes. These days, Israelis feel as dependent on US support as in the Dayan era, probably more so. Their near-isolation in world councils was displayed recently by the overwhelming UN General Assembly vote supporting Palestinian statehood. When US aid is suspended, Israelis will suffer near-panic until their government accepts Obama’s demands.
To assure prompt success, I recommend the aid suspension be comprehensive and kept in full effect until the following requirements are met:
Israel must recognise Palestine’s sovereignty over all its territory seized in the l967 war, and all Israeli personnel and settlers must leave, except those who possess valid pre- 1967 claims or are approved to remain as foreign nationals
Palestine and Israel must sign a peace treaty prohibiting cross-border violence and permit peaceable access to cross-border religious sites In addition, Palestine must agree to discuss land-swaps mentioned in the Geneva Accord that followed approval of UN Resolution 242. Israel must accept a Palestinian-controlled highway connecting Gaza with the West Bank and reaffirm refugee rights under UN Resolution 194. Once executive order requirements are met each party will realise great benefit:
Israel will be strengthened, because over six million Arabs now under occupation will no longer be within territory it controls. This assures Israel’s long-term survival as a Jewishmajority state. And, for the first time in history, Israelis can expect true security at home, a prospect unthinkable today; Arab states long ago agreed to normalize relations with Israel when Palestine becomes truly independent. The Jewish state will also be free from serious domestic demands for territorial expansion and from the economic burden of maintaining the Palestinian occupation.
Palestinians will enjoy full citizenship for the first time since the end of World War II. They will attain peaceful relations with all nations and the dignity of self-government in a truly independent state. Iran, pleased at Palestine’s independence, will have less reason—perhaps none—to oppose the Jewish state.
THE UNITED STATES
The US for the first time in over 40 years, will be liberated from complicity in Israel’s unlawful treatment of Arabs. Hostile groups like Al Qaeda will lose much of their power to recruit, as well as their stated reason for being. Any specter of religious war between West and East will fade.
Only a presidential executive order can impose and carry to early success the aid suspension. Congress will likely protest, but Obama can dismiss opposition by citing overriding national security demands. Congress‘s only recourse will be impeachment—a most unlikely response.
President Obama is the only person in the world able to bring about this transformation to a just peace, as he alone holds sufficient power to gain cooperation of the principal parties. If he fails to act, the Middle East is almost certain to remain a fierce battleground, with US drones feeding anti-American fury abroad and Islamophobia at home. Pressed by new settlements, Palestinians will be penned into still tighter corners of their birthright.
If Obama acts and perseveres the world will rejoice, and historians will record him a great peacemaker. His executive order, like the one Abraham Lincoln used to emancipate slaves, will herald the blessings of liberty for several million long-suffering human beings.
Only a dream? Yes, but it will become glorious reality if our president sees clearly the beckoning hand of destiny.