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Next steps in the US-Israel Dispute

GB Geo-Blog

Next steps in the US-Israel Dispute

In the last few days, the diplomatic conflict between the United States and Israel has deepened. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other U.S. officials have strongly condemned the recent expansion of Israel settlements in East Jerusalem and they have demanded a tangible change of direction in Israeli policy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to give-in to what he calls outside pressure on Israeli interests. Relations between the two allies have reached a low not seen in at least two decades.

This is a problem of Israel’s own making in recent weeks. The housing settlement in East Jerusalem is not necessary for Israeli security, it undermines broader strategic aims in the region, and its announcement during Vice President Biden’s visit directly challenged American aims in the region. The Israelis acted in a stubborn, over-confident, and self-defeating way. They underestimated the Obama administration, as many others have in recent weeks.

President Obama should not move quickly to resolve this US-Israeli dispute. If anything, he should maintain his administration’s critical posture toward recent Israeli policies. He should also indicate that he is willing to reassess the entire relationship in light of recent events. Most of all, Obama should use this moment to reach out to emerging groups within the United States that support Israel, but not the belligerent policies of the last decade or so. For example, J Street is a new political action group in the United States that has mobilized thousands of American supporters of Israel to advocate a more vibrant and even-handed peace process in the Middle East. Similar groups of pro-Israel, pro-peace, anti-settlement groups exist throughout the United States. They have supported President Obama very strongly and he should continue to cultivate them. Arguments about a monolithic “Israel Lobby” are over-stated, but the need to diversify the range of recognized domestic opinion on Middle East policy is more necessary than ever before.

The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of either Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs


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