In his speech this week before the UN General Assembly, US President Barack
Obama gave special attention to the Israeli-Palestinian
According to Obama this conflict – along with Iran’s pursuit of
nuclear weapons – is central to peace and stability in the region. Several times
during his speech he repeated this mantra.
In the opening to the central,
major section of his speech, for instance, Obama declared, “While these issues
[Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] are not the cause of all the
region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too
long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader
Later he returned to this “linkage” theme: “Real breakthroughs on
these two issues – Iran’s nuclear program, and Israeli-Palestinian peace – would
have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North
Obama is correct about Iran. It is undisputable that an Islamic
Republic ruled by mullahs with nuclear weapon capability would be exceedingly
destabilizing. The Islamic Republic, either directly or through its proxies, is
involved in numerous conflicts in the region from Syria and various Gulf states
to Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran arms, trains and supports Hezbollah on Israel’s
northern border. And according to a recent report by the pro- Hezbollah Lebanese
newspaper As-Safir, it has resumed its support for Hamas terrorists in the Gaza
Obama is wrong, however, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Arab Spring that began in Tunisia, spread to Egypt and sparked sectarian
violence in Syria had absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s “occupation” of the
West Bank. In each of these countries, and elsewhere, popular uprisings unfolded
on the backdrop of socioeconomic inequalities and a rejection of old and corrupt
If Israel and the Palestinians settled all their
disputes today, the civil war tearing Syria apart would continue to rage, the
violent standoff between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military junta, and
other conflicts and terrorist activity from Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan to
Mali and Kenya, to name just a few, would continue.
Even if Israel
managed, somehow, to reach a peace agreement with the PLO, led by Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, over the West Bank, Jerusalem and refugees,
Israel’s conflict with the Hamascontrolled Gaza Strip, with Hezbollah forces in
south Lebanon and with additional Islamist groups in Jordan, Egypt, Syria and
elsewhere would continue.
That is because it is Islamist extremism is its
various forms – not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or even just Iran – that is
the driving force behind the terrorism, violence and bloodshed throughout the
region. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself has been perpetuated by this
same Islamist extremism more than any other factor.
As Israeli and
Palestinian teams negotiate peace, in official PA schools and news media, in TV
shows and political caricatures, Israel’s right to exist is denied, Israeli
cities are given Arabic names and Jews have no history in Israel. Abbas demands
the release of the most ruthless, murderous terrorists as a precondition for
peace talks and proceeds to treat these despicable terrorists as Palestinian
Just this week in a meeting in New York with Jewish leaders,
Abbas condemned the killings of two Israeli soldiers, Gavriel Kobi and Tomer
Hazan, while asking that Israel condemn the killings of Palestinians.
even this half-hearted condemnation, which was issued in response to a pointed
question from the crowd, was not published by WAFA, the official PA news agency,
as The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported this week. Unfortunately,
Obama – a true friend of Israel – failed to note in his speech the PA’s ongoing
incitement against Israel.
Despite Obama’s claims to the contrary,
solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a solution to the region’s
instability. And even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved until
Obama and other world leaders realize that it is Islamic extremism that is
perpetuating the conflict and fueling violence throughout the Middle East and
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