The new Israeli-American partnership

What is hoped for, in this diplomacy of May, is that the United States and Israel will coordinate their policies.

obama peres 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
obama peres 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
President Peres, who on Tuesday became the first Israeli leader to meet with President Obama in the White House, naturally coordinated that meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu, preparing the ground for the prime minister's meeting with Obama later this month. What is hoped for, in this diplomacy of May, is that the United States and Israel will coordinate their policies in the following areas: • A common strategy toward Iran, fundamentalism and the perpetrators of terrorism. It must be made clear to the Iranians that while the West and the United States are ready for diplomatic engagement, any Iranian nuclear military option must be dropped. Otherwise, sharp economic sanctions will be imposed and no option is off the table. • A common strategy toward the pragmatic Arab world, with a vision of regional peace. This strategy should be based on the Saudi initiative, which calls for normalization between Arab countries and Israel as well as an agreement with Israel regarding the refugee problem. Such regional cooperation should proceed gradually and include economic cooperation, infrastructure links, joint ventures in the field of culture, and cooperation in the fields of environment and alternative energy as well as on regional security. • An agreed strategy to make progress with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas in the diplomatic process and to strengthen him vis-a-vis Hamas. All permanent status issues must be addressed, and while negotiation takes place, confidence building measures should be implemented according to the road map. • The exploration of possible talks between Israel, Syria and the US on peace based on Defense Minister Ehud Barak's notion that the depths of withdrawals should be parallel to the depths of peace and security. This process should also advance the distancing of Syria from Iran and other fundamentalists and terrorist forces such as Hizbullah and Hamas. This process should also lead to peace talks between Israel and Lebanon. • The enhancement of American-Israeli relations, including keeping Israel's qualitative security advantage and the ongoing commitment for economic help as well as exploring a defense pact between the two countries in case of regional peace, as the two sides share common values and strategic interests. Peres was best suited to begin this process with Obama. Both are believers that assertive diplomacy is a first resort and the use of force is the last resort. They share common values of peace and freedom, and the respect for different cultures and religions. Netanyahu is to be commended for enabling this new beginning. Israel will only gain from it. Ambassador Uri Savir was Israel's chief negotiator of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and is today the president of the Peres Center for Peace.