How many times have I heard this refrain? "This president is
the best friend Israel has ever had." Hundreds of times.
About Ronald Reagan. And about Bill Clinton. And now about
George Bush. And, I suppose, it is true in a certain abstract sense
about each of them. They probably also understood that the prime
impediment to a peace between the Israelis and those who now call
themselves Palestinians (this nomenclature is relatively new to the Arabs
of Palestine) is fanatic resistance to the non-negotiable reality of a
Jewish state in the Holy Land.
But negotiations are not conducted over people's sentiments. They are about maps and functions and other tangible aspects of the relationship between neighboring societies. So, as with his two aforementioned predecessors, Bush has expended energy and time over the details of an arrangement. First with the "road map" and now with whatever momentum seeped out of Annapolis. History repeats itself. America is the only country with the power to induce Israel to make perilous concessions and, therefore, it is the only country whose government Arabs -- both in Palestine and in the surrounding countries -- are motivated to influence. If you don't think the U.S. is still the pivot of international relations, look again.
Yet there are some realities that neither the American president nor the best laid plans of other mice and men can influence or affect. You can force this bloc of settlements (and almost of them) to close down and draw the border here rather than there and even color code Jerusalem to allow the Arabs to control the Temple Mount (which would be a terrible affront to Jewish history that the Muslims want especially to affront) and to hand sovereignty over Palestinian neighborhoods in the city to the Palestinians and contrive some cynical and unprecedented formula for allowing some "refugees" (they are almost all dead actually) to "return" and creating a fund for compensation of zillions of dollars (to which Israel should not contribute because it has absorbed since 1948 a larger number of true Jewish refugees from the Islamic world) and do much more...and yet none of this and not even all of this would end the jihad against Zion.
Near the end of their terms in office Ronald Reagan went down this road and Bill Clinton went down this road, too, and now George Bush is going down this road, as well. It is not out of malice towards Israel or even strategic callousness about its existential survival needs. Some of their eagerness might actually be an expression of their concern for and solidarity with Israel.
Yet no one will promise -- let alone assure -- that when (and if) Israel withdraws from 90% or 96% of the West Bank the land it has left will not be turned into platforms from which rockets and missiles are launched against the population centers of the Jewish state...and against strategic positions like Ben Gurion International Airport. What then will the next American president or the one after counsel the Israelis to give up?
The fact is that the great impediment to peace with Israel is the fanatic obstinacy of the Palestinians. Does anyone have a strategy for negotiating with that?
Here are texts (courtesy of MEMRI) from two Egyptian texts more or less making the same points.