'Israeli-Arab peace a US priority'

White House seeks to ensure Israeli security, Palestinian state.

white house 298 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
white house 298 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
WASHINGTON – Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the top US national security priorities, according to the National Security Strategy released by the White House on Thursday.
Along with defeating al-Qaida, leading the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ending the Iran challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the strategy refers to Arab-Israeli peace as an important American interest.
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“We will be unwavering in our pursuit of a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors, including a two-state solution that ensures Israel’s security, while fulfilling the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a viable state of their own,” it declares.
Later, in discussing American approaches to countering al-Qaida and its destructive vision, the administration lists resolving the Arab-Israel conflict as one such avenue.
“We will continue to work to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has long been a source of tension,” the report states.
The National Security Strategy also talks about specific goals for advancing peace in the Middle East, including continuing “broad cooperation on a wide range of issues with our close friend, Israel, and an unshakable commitment to its security,” as well as trade, exchanges and other ventures.
The document also calls for “the achievement of the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for statehood, opportunity, and the realization of their extraordinary potential” and “the transformation of Iranian policy away from its pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism, and threats against its neighbors.”
The strategy emphasizes America’s interest in working with its allies and forming multilateral relationships to advance its goals, and discusses the importance of partnerships with Arab countries in the Middle East as well as Israel.
Regarding the latter, it states, “This includes maintaining a strongpartnership with Israel while supporting Israel’s lasting integrationinto the region.”
The report also talks about broad approaches of American securitypolicy, stressing the importance of safeguarding the American publicand reserving the right to use force unilaterally if necessary.
But in something of a pullback from the previous administration’snational security posture as outlined in the previous such strategyoutline, the new report emphasizes using force only as a last resortand using diplomacy and development to lessen its need.
“While the use of force is sometimes necessary, we will exhaust otheroptions before war whenever we can,” according to the new strategy.“When force is necessary, we will continue to do so in a way thatreflects our values and strengthens our legitimacy, and we will seekbroad international support, working with such institutions as NATO andthe UN Security Council.”
It continues, “The United States must reserve the right to actunilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests.”
At the same time, it notes, “We will draw on diplomacy, development,and international norms and institutions to help resolve disagreements,prevent conflict, and maintain peace, mitigating where possible theneed for the use of force.”