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Getting It Backwards on Israel



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In today’s Washington Examiner, John Bolton writes: “The idea that Israel’s recalcitrance, personified by pugnacious Bibi Netanyahu, is the central obstacle to peace is exactly backward, like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.”

This is the subject of my NRO piece today. At AIPAC last week, Secretary of State Clinton rolled out a list of shining benefits that would result from successful implementation of a two-state solution — Israel would get recognition, the Palestinians would have to take responsibility for their own affairs, and extremism would wane across the region. But in fact, these are all preconditions of a successful peace process – the things Clinton must work to achieve in order to make a two-state solution possible. That is how Henry Kissinger saw his role in the 1970s — as working to lay the necessary foundations for a successful negotiation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. That should be the U.S. role now.

But Clinton and Obama see their role much more simply. They see themselves as impartial arbiters whose task it is to be even-handed in mediating between Israeli and Palestinian grievances, while ignoring the much more complicated realities of Israeli and Palestinian society. This is the “peace process” that President Clinton pursued in the 1990s. It produced a decade of conflict, destroyed the Israeli Left, and pushed peace further away than we have seen it in decades. Now history is repeating itself.



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