It is extraordinary that a gullible world now regards Israel as rejectionist, yet it is Arab leaders who have rejected everything over the decades—rejected a partition of the land proposed by the Peel Commission in 1936; rejected the United Nations partition plan of 1947; rejected the Israeli offer after the 1967 Six Day War to return all the territories; rejected the major opportunity for peace after the Oslo agreement of 1993; rejected Ehud Barak's proposal for a Palestinian state and President Clinton's compromise proposals; rejected Ehud Olmert's even more generous proposal for a Palestinian state. Sadly, President Obama seems to have drawn a moral equivalent between those who have been prepared to live in peace and those who have chosen war in 1948, 1956, 1973, and 1982, with follow-on campaigns of terrorism after every loss.
Instead of embracing peace, Arab leaders converted the West Bank territory they came to control into a launching pad for suicide bombing, an Intifada that killed more than 1,000 Israelis and ultimately forced Israel to return to the West Bank at great cost and build a security fence against terrorist infiltration. This conduct turned upside down the priorities of the road map for peace, which stated that prior to Israeli concessions the Palestinians would be obliged to demonstrate a commitment to curbing terrorism, eschewing violence and its incitement. No chance, not least because one generation poisons the next.
The hatred of Jews is cultivated throughout the Arab Muslim world without drawing any rebuke from the moral arbiters who are so ready to condemn Israel for the smallest infraction. Hate permeates all points of Palestinian public communications—newspapers, videocassettes, sermons, books, the Internet, television, radio, and, most insidiously, the schoolrooms. The anti-Jewish campaign is so dishonest, so vicious, so persistent that it surpasses that of Nazi Germany in its heyday. New media cable networks like al Jazeera, al Manar, and al Arabiya make the campaign all-pervasive. And the United Nations? It has become a forum not for peace but for fomenting and focusing anti-Israeli propaganda, not for independent inquiry but for the indictment of Israel whenever it seeks to eliminate a terrorist sanctuary, not for enforcing agreements but providing a smokescreen for their violation.
Now comes President Obama to undermine a commitment made by the United States. To appreciate what is at stake, we have to look at the record. Israel of its own volition withdrew settlers and settlements from Gaza, though this evacuation was not required by the road map. The Bush administration acknowledged in return that settlement construction in the West Bank would be permitted within the existing construction line—not new settlement but building to cope with the growth of families. This understanding was confirmed by senior members of the National Security Council and in letters from the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser. Among other things, the letters said, "In the framework of the agreed principles on settlement activity, we will shortly make an effort to better delineate the settlement construction line in Judea and Samaria." Former Sharon aide Dov Weisglass wrote recently reaffirming "that the administration recognized Israel's right under the road map to development from within the existing construction line."
For years, Israel has relied on these understandings for developments of homes within the guidelines set down, without objection from the U.S. government and without denials when this policy was reported in the New York Times and in the Washington Post.
Repudiating these understandings is an extraordinary breach of the normal behavior of governments and stands in juxtaposition to U.S. demands that the Israeli government adhere to commitments made by its predecessors. Surely there could have been a much more constructive way in which the two governments could have reached an understanding rather than through a public confrontation after a speech in Cairo, of all places. Is it not understood that, far from advancing peace, these hard-line statements will serve only to harden the determination of the Palestinians not to make any compromises, as both sides must do? Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has already stated he will not even negotiate with the Israelis.