Is Israel Serious About Peace?

Hassan Nafaa, writing in al-Ahram, expresses a view that is very common in the Middle East. He argues that “no Israel government now or in the forseeable future, is prepared to reach a solution to the Middle East conflict on the basis of the Arab initiative.” Nafaa argues Israel leaders believe they have the upper hand and while Israel becomes stronger, Arab nations grow weaker so why pursue the road to peace that will result in the emergence of an independent Palestinian state. He says “there is no sign that international public opinion is putting any pressure on Israel to accept the initiative.” And, to make matters worse, there is a leadership vacuum in Israel.

There is no question Nafaa builds a strong case to remain stubbornly committed to the Arab initiative to make clear to Israel they must accept their view or maintain the current status quo. He is very pessimistic about the Obama desire to force peace on the Israelis by making them compromise with Arabs. Granted the current Israel government leaves much to be desired in terms of visionaries who can look to the future and realize that Israel must compromise to survive, but Mr. Nafaa ignores new dynamics at play in the Middle East.

1. The Obama-Clinton initiative depends on a two state solution if there is to be any hope of gaining Iranian cooperation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Failure to secure a Middle East peace threatens peace possibilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration knows such failure could result in a Republican comeback in 2010.

2. Just about every important American Jewish organization has come out in support of a two state solution. American Jews voted overwhelmingly for Obama and know he must get a two state solution. Israel is no longer in 2007 when Bush was in power and supported any and all Israel initiatives.

3. It is simply a matter of time before Iran gets atomic weapons. If Israel has not secured peace with Palestine it creates a dangerous situation that neither the US nor the European Union will allow. They will demand Israel accept a two state solution.