Obama, take a leaf from Truman's book to spur peace process

An American-sponsored package that couples a US-Israel defense treaty with a Clinton two-state format addresses the deep anxiety of Israeli Jews of almost all political hues for their and Israel’s future.

November 26, 2012 21:38
3 minute read.
Harry Truman with his wife and daughter

Harry Truman with his wife and daughter 370. (photo credit: reuters)


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Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, 70 percent to 80% of the Israeli Jewish public if given security guarantees is willing to embrace a two-state Clinton Plan solution.

It is in the newly re-elected president’s power to harness this majority and break a 65-year Israeli-Palestinian impasse by following a path laid down by Harry Truman over 60 years ago.

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With the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, and the reversals inflicted by the Chinese intervention in November of that year, the Truman administration was desperate to permit the partial rearmament of Japan in an effort to expand the coalition of the allied forces. What stood in the way was the “No War” article in the Japanese post-World War II constitution, which in effect demilitarized Japan.

Having been attacked and threatened with invasion by Japan during WWII, Australia viewed Japan as a major threat to its national security. Both Australia and New Zealand strongly objected to the Truman administration’s request. As a condition to their rescinding their opposition to Japan’s rearmament they demanded that the US provide a security umbrella in the form of a three-country Defense Treaty.

The impediment to Japan’s rearmament was resolved in San Francisco on September 1, 1951.

A three-nation treaty signed by the US, Australia and New Zealand bound the signatories to consider an armed attack in the Pacific area on any one of them as endangering the security of the others. The general feeling at the time was that the Defense Treaty provided Australia with the most foolproof protection it had ever had.

The thread that connects Australia and New Zealand of 1951 to Israel of 2012 is the existential threat to national security perceived by the peoples of Australia and New Zealand in 1951 and Israeli Jews in 2012. This was quantified this year in Israel where according to a poll conducted in April 2012, 43% of respondents reported concern that the State of Israel could be destroyed.

How would the implementation of the Australia-New Zealand model impact on the willingness of Israeli Jews to accept the Clinton Proposal as a vehicle for resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict? This question was investigated in December of 2010 by DAHAF, one of the most highly regarded polling institutes in Israel.

According to this study 70% of the Jewish public supported a peace agreement that included a US security guarantee and assurance of the Jewish character of the State of Israel. This agreement when including the dismantling of Hamas’s military capabilities, a security fence and a mutual US-Israel defense treaty was supported by 81% of the Jewish public.

Given the historic upheavals occurring in the Arab countries and the ensuing uncertainty that they generate these majorities have probably increased since the 2010 poll.

A mutual defense treaty would formalize the close relationship that already exists between the US and Israel as expressed by two presidents. In 2012 Obama declared: “I will say that we have closer military and intelligence consultations between our two countries than we have ever had.

And my number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel,” and in 2006 George W. Bush said in relation to the Iranian threat: “I made it clear, I’ll make it clear again we will use our military might to protect Israel.”

An American-sponsored package that couples a US-Israel defense treaty with a Clinton two-state format addresses the deep anxiety of Israeli Jews of almost all political hues for their and Israel’s future. Given the large majority among Israeli Jews that such a package commands, a US-Israel defense treaty is a most expeditious path to follow in order to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The writer is the head of the Long Range Urban Planning Department TAHAL –Water Planning for Israel, ad a consultant on optimal management and utilization of natural resources.

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