A pivotal moment

Despite the differing views, the one constant which has always defined US-Israel ties was that of shared values; And this message must be restated at the upcoming Netanyahu-Obama meeting.

By ARI HAROW
July 5, 2010 21:56
3 minute read.
Netanyahu and Obama during their meeting in the Wh

Netanyahu and Obama . (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Even the most casual observer of American- Israeli relations can tell you that this week’s events will serve as a pivotal moment in our 63-year-old relationship.

Having personally witnessed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu interact with the current American president, I would agree there is no overestimating the importance of the next several days – but perhaps for different reasons than most would assume.

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There can be no disputing that we have two national leaders with very different visions for how to accomplish peace in our region. On the one hand is a prime minister motivated to find a resolution to a conflict that has personally cost him, the way it has cost all too many Israelis. And on the American side, we have a president who does not seem to recognize that both sides must act responsibly to achieve real peace. Nevertheless, all Israelis should realize one basic truth – when we stands firm and clearly articulate our vital security needs and interests, the American people have proven time and again that they will be here at our side.

Netanyahu has proven over the past 15 months his willingness to take extraordinary steps to return the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Beginning with his address at Bar-Ilan University and repeated numerous times since, he has established the government’s desire to see the implementation of a two-state solution. In recent months, we have witnessed unprecedented Israeli actions – the removal of hundreds of roadblocks intended to ease Palestinian movement, numerous joint Israeli-Palestinian economic initiatives and the freeze of all new construction in Judea and Samaria.

These steps were designed to display our sense of goodwill and commitment toward forward progress.

While the White House has publicly endorsed all these initiatives, the US administration has demonstrated a lack of clear vision when it comes to how best to treat the conflict. All the moves that the prime minister willingly implemented as trust-building gestures have only inspired increasing calls for additional concessions.

To date, the US administration has largely given the Palestinian leadership a free pass, conveying that the onus of real responsibility falls on Israel alone.

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DESPITE ANY differing viewpoints even on these most fundamental of issues, perhaps the one constant which has always defined the American-Israeli relationship has been that of shared values. America’s history is a saga of protecting the rights of its citizens against all threats while preserving their right to lives defined by freedom and the pursuit of personal well-being. The American people appreciate that Israel shares those same values in ways that are very unique in today’s world.

Protecting these common ideals has taken on greater meaning in recent years.

Today, more than ever, both our nations must substantially and resolutely invest in fighting the increasing wave of terror directly intended on destroying our ways of life and our very existence.

This common battle against Islamic fundamentalism has further strengthened our common bond.

The enduring lesson of this special relationship is that when Israel stands strong in demanding real security for our citizens, the US, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, has been willing and ready to support us.

Recent months have proven this as fact in the case of Israel’s unrelenting calls for stricter sanctions against Iran. Teheran’s nuclear program represents a clear existential danger to the State of Israel. Due to the actions of the Netanyahu government in keeping Iran at the forefront of its international efforts, stricter sanctions have now been adopted both at the UN and separately in the US.

As the prime minister prepares for his meeting with President Barack Obama, the message must be made clearer than ever.

The relationship between the US and Israel remains strong; but determining our national destiny first and foremost requires our commitment to the principles which have always allowed us to prosper.

If we are strong, our friends will recognize that strength, salute that resolve and give us the necessary tools to defend and preserve our nation and its citizens.

The writer served as director of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s bureau and is a public affairs and international business strategic consultant.

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