Obama is good for peace

My prescription parallels the foreign policy ideals of Barack Obama.

us special 224 (photo credit: )
us special 224
(photo credit: )
As Israelis, we are bound to non-partisanship in the US elections. Yet, as Israelis, we will be extremely influenced by the new US administration's policy toward Israel, the Middle East peace process and the wider region.
The Bush era was not a glorious chapter in the annals of the Middle East. Against a backdrop of the aftermath of September 11, the war on terror and the ramifications of the situation in Iraq, the Bush administration came to terms with the necessary peace process only in its seventh year of tenure, from the Annapolis conference on.
Israel today requires an American president and an administration that understand the urgency of creating a successful peace process between Israelis and Palestinians employing a two-state solution. Given the internal problems on both sides, we call for American involvement - when necessary - to make it happen.
For this reason, a timeline for progress on negotiating the various issues would be very helpful, as would regular summit meetings between the new president, the prime minister of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority.
WE NEED an American administration positively and actively involved in the peace process with Syria; for without American involvement, I don't believe that Syria will make any substantial moves.
I also believe that on security-related issues it will be impossible to reach a deal without American involvement, especially when it comes to intelligence capacities, preventing surprise attacks and monitoring security deployment.
We need an American administration which understands that fighting terror must be multi-dimensional - both through the use of force and through the of use of active diplomacy. This is especially true for Iraq, where there needs to be a gradual American withdrawal while handing over more responsibility to the Iraqis. The fight against al-Qaida and the terrorist Taliban should focus more on Afghanistan's nation-building efforts.
We need an American administration which, instead of imposing democracy in the region, facilitates it. We have seen the failure to impose democracy in virtually every area in the developing world. There must be an authentic, internal process that respects the political culture of other societies.
WE NEED an American administration that strives for comprehensive peace in the region and understands the importance of economic cooperation between regional communities. Regional economic development is extremely important, and we need to detach ourselves from narrow, archaic security doctrines.
We are in need of a fresh look at peace-making and peace-building, one that understands that the key is not deterrence but the motivation of constituencies to engage in a culture of peace and cooperation.
We need an American administration that is friendly to Israel and to the sustainability of its long-term security interests in the region, especially in the context of nuclear proliferation and the Iranian question. To be a friend to Israel means having shared values and being helpful to the peace process in the region.
Iran must not be allowed to become nuclear, and this should be achieved by assertive and creative diplomacy, such as trans-Atlantic cooperation on sanctions on Iran and - if possible - negotiations that offer incentives to Iran in return for its not developing nuclear power for military means.
In the upcoming US election there is a clear choice before the American electorate when it comes to foreign policy and peace policies. The choice is either a continuation of previous presidents' security and deterrence policies, or a fundamental change that emphasizes creative diplomacy, nation-building processes and the development of a culture of peace.
As Israelis, we are supposed to be non-partisan with respect to American politics. But the prescription for peace post-January 2009 that I've detailed here is a prescription that parallels the foreign policy ideals of Senator Barack Obama.
The writer is president of the Peres Center for Peace, and was Israel's chief negotiator for the Oslo Accords. His upcoming book is entitled Peace First.