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.
Israeli President Shimon Peres remains constructive. As someone who has long worked for accommodation, there is force in his argument that stubborn mindsets can be transcended only by an imaginative leap beyond tinkering with peace plans. He instances Egypt's President Anwar Sadat's dramatic peacemaking journey to Jerusalem, which diminished old fears and put an end to the history of suspicion. The turning point in Israel's relations with Jordan was when King Hussein visited the families of seven Israeli girls who had been murdered by a Jordanian soldier.
Peres believes that a regional peace, supported by the other Arab countries, would have the same transforming effect. He supports the Arab initiative, though he says that because "Israel did not take part in the wording of the Arab peace initiative, [it] therefore should not be expected to accept its every word."
Israelis are prepared to meet the Palestinians without preconditions. And the Palestinians? Ho, hum. Abbas intends to be passive and wait for the United States to force concessions from Israel.
The contrast could not be clearer.
An English wag was premature in declaring that "all the 'isms' are wasisms." In the 20th century, fascism came and went; communism came and went; socialism came and waned. But several isms inhabit the world today. Anti-Americanism is one; so, too, is anti-Zionism. These isms of hatred and destruction are graffiti on the walls of history.