The issue of a Palestinian state has reemerged because of the emphasis it has got in president Obama’s Mideast policy speech of May 19. Although Israeli prime minister’s rebuttal of Obama’s outline for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict indicates a mounting challenge, the September General Assembly vote on the Palestinian statehood looks inevitable. How will both Israel and its benefactor U.S. confront the UN plan is not clear yet. However, Obama has cautioned the Palestinian side not to move unilaterally in this regard.
While president Obama’s outline of basic parameters for a two-state solution has raised some hopes, Israel’s adamant position in this front makes future negotiations more complicated. In his May 24 address to the joint meeting of the U.S. Congress prime minister Netanyahu has reiterated longstanding positions on core issues that need to be resolved for Arab-Israeli peace.
His opposition to recognize pre-1967 Six Days War borders between Israel and Palestine and the return of Arab refugees remains as it is. Additionally, he insists on demilitarization of future Palestinian state and deployment of Israeli forces along the Jordan river. With such adamancy of the Israeli side the prospects of peace process in the region become almost nil.
In view of Israel’s hard line approach some analysts opine that Netanyahu has not realized the fact that a sea change in international attitudes has occurred. The Arab transformation has changed ground reality. Israel has already lost its strategic partner in Egypt with the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The future regime in Egypt with whom Israel made peace back in 1979 is less likely to be friendlier. To fail to capitalize upon the chances of settlement in Arab-Israeli conflict offered by U.S. reengagement may cost Israel dearly.
The U.S. administration can hardly ignore the implications of stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian peace on American vital strategic interests. President Obama’s embrace of two-nation approach with 1967 lines as the basis for negotiating the demarcation of borders between Israel and Palestine is considered to be pragmatic. In this connection the remarks made by Gen. David Petraeus in his Congressional testimony in 2010 seem relevant. He said, “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnership with governments and peoples in the region”.
Echoing the above comments Michael A. Cohen contends that it is not Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya which is the greatest source of anti-American attitudes in the Arab world. He adds that it is the continued lack of resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the view of many in the region that the U.S. has its thumbs on the scale in favor of Israel.
Certainly an evenhanded position of the U.S. administration towards Israeli-Palestinian dispute is needed. Because of wave of unsteady, democratic reforms spreading in the Mideast it behooves on America that it does not derail the UN vote on recognizing the Palestinian statehood. Its two-nation principle will be at jeopardy if it opposes statehood issue at the UN.