Is President Barack Obama committed to Israel’s security? Reassuring bromides to
that effect in his recent speeches are nullified by specific statements that
spell out dangerous Israeli concessions and disregard for Israeli vital
interests. Worse, the administration’s wider Middle East policies further denude
those commitments of meaning.
Thus, when Obama said Israel must have
secure, recognized borders “different than the one that existed on June 4,
1967,” many missed the point that this means little, when the new borders are to
be “based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps” and therefore be
virtually indistinguishable from those lines. Indeed, with Palestinians unlikely
to agree to any swaps, Obama gave the Palestinians a veto over any continued
Israel presence beyond the pre-1967 lines.
unprecedented call for a Palestinian state to have “permanent Palestinian
borders with… Jordan” would require Israel ceding the Jordan Valley, whose
retention successive Israeli governments have regarded as vital– another first
for a US president.
Obama has also become the first US president to
suggest that issues of “territory and security” be agreed upon first, before
proceeding to negotiations on all other matters, including Jerusalem and
Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants.
Israel’s basic security would also mean repudiating the repatriation of the
refugees and their descendants. Bush did so in his May 2004 letter; Obama has
not. On the contrary, he has supported the so-called Saudi peace plan, which
demands not only a return to the 1967 lines, but also the return of all refugees
and their descendants.
In May, Obama reiterated that the US “will hold
the Palestinians accountable for their actions and their rhetoric.”
he never has – nor does he now.
When, in August 2009, Fatah held a
conference in Bethlehem, reaffirming its refusal to accept Israel’s existence as
a Jewish state, glorifying terrorists, insisting on the so-called ‘right of
return,’ and rejecting an end of claims in any future peace agreement, Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton astonishingly claimed that the conference showed “a
broad consensus supporting negotiations with Israel and the two-state
When in 2010, the PA named a Ramallah square after terrorist
Dalal Mughrabi, Clinton falsely claimed that this ceremony was initiated by a
Refusing to identify the PA as responsible,
Obama has not penalized it.
INDEED, FAR from holding Palestinians
accountable, Obama has consistently rewarded them, increasing aid to almost $1
billion per year. A Palestinian Media Watch report just presented to the US
Congress documents that, in May 2011 alone, the PA paid $5,207,000 in salaries
to Palestinians in Israeli jails, including blood-soaked terrorists. Last year
the US provided $225 million to the general Palestinian budget from which these
salaries are paid.
If Obama was genuine about holding the PA accountable,
he would be demanding the disbanding of Fatah’s own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – a
US- recognized terrorist group. He would demand the abrogation of the PA’s unity
agreement with Hamas (which calls for a genocide of Jews) as a precondition of
any future talks. He has done neither.
It is also difficult to imagine
what conception of American and Israeli security interests led Obama in January
to ditch Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and call for political “transition…
now” when protests erupted in Cairo. Still less clear is why his administration
spoke immediately of involving “non-secular actors” – a clear allusion to the
Muslim Brotherhood – given its virulent hostility to the US and Israel. Now,
Obama has legitimized the Brotherhood by initiating contacts with it.
NET result is that Egypt is on the road from lukewarm ally and peace-maker to a
dependable enemy – one to which Obama has announced the sale of 125
state-of-the-art M1A1 Abrams tanks. It is also disturbing that Obama has not
pressured Egypt to close its Gaza border at Rafah, whose recent opening has
enabled the flow of weaponry into Hamas-run Gaza.
For a year, Obama
prohibited any new US sanctions to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons – a
looming existential threat to both Israel and the US. Indeed, further measures
which must be taken to stop Iran is precisely what Obama left untouched in his
Thus Obama’s words and deeds not only fail to match his
stated commitment to Israel’s security – they negate it.
Morton A. Klein
is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy
and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (London: