Re­al­ity check

It demon­strates just how dis­con­nected from re­al­ity both the Is­raeli and the Pales­tinian lead­er­ships have be­come.

The Pak Banker - - Editorial5 - Thomas L. Fried­man

The failed at­tempt by the US to bribe Is­rael with a $3 bil­lion se­cu­rity as­sis­tance pack­age, diplo­matic cover and ad­vanced F-35 fighter air­craft - if Prime Min­is­ter Bibi Ne­tanyahu would sim­ply agree to a 90-day set­tle­ments freeze to re­sume talks with the Pales­tini­ans - has been enor­mously clar­i­fy­ing. It demon­strates just how dis­con­nected from re­al­ity both the Is­raeli and the Pales­tinian lead­er­ships have be­come.

Oil is to Saudi Ara­bia what un­con­di­tional Amer­i­can aid and af­fec­tion are to Is­rael - and what un­con­di­tional Arab and Euro­pean aid and af­fec­tion are to the Pales­tini­ans: a hal­lu­cino­genic drug that en­ables them each to think they can defy the laws of his­tory, geog­ra­phy and de­mog­ra­phy. It is long past time that we stop be­ing their crack deal­ers. At a time of nearly 10 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment in Amer­ica, we have the Is­raelis and the Pales­tini­ans sit­ting over there with their arms folded, wait­ing for more U. S. as­sur­ances or money to per­suade them to do what is man­i­festly in their own in­ter­est: ne­go­ti­ate a two-state deal. Shame on them, and shame us. You can't want peace more than the par­ties them­selves, and that is ex­actly where Amer­ica is to­day. The peo­ple run­ning Is­rael and Pales­tine have other pri­or­i­ties. It is time we left them alone to pur­sue them - and to live with the con­se­quences.

They just don't get it: we're not their grand­fa­ther's Amer­ica any­more. We have big­ger prob­lems. Is­raeli and Pales­tinian ne­go­tia­tors should take a minute and put the fol­low­ing five words into Google: "bud­get cuts and fire de­part­ments." Here's what they'll find: Amer­i­can city af­ter city - Phoenix, Cincin­nati, Austin, Washington, Jack­sonville, Sacra­mento, Philadel­phia - all hav­ing to cut their fire de­part­ments. Then put in these four words: "schools and bud­get cuts." One of the top sto­ries listed is from The Chris­tian Sci­ence Monitor: "As state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments slash spend­ing and fed­eral stim­u­lus dries up, school bud­get cuts for the next aca­demic year could be the worst in a gen­er­a­tion."

I guar­an­tee you, if some­one came to these cities and said, "We have $3 bil­lion we'd like to give to your schools and fire de­part­ments if you'll just do what is man­i­festly in your own in­ter­est," their only an­swer would be: "Where do we sign?" And so it should have been with Is­rael.

Is­rael, when Amer­ica, a coun­try that has lav­ished bil­lions on you over the last 50 years and taken up your de­fense in count­less in­ter­na­tional fo­rums, asks you to halt set­tle­ments for three months to get peace talks go­ing, there is only one right an­swer, and it is not "How much?" It is: "Yes, what­ever you want, be­cause you're our only true friend in the world."

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, what are you think­ing? Ehud Olmert, the for­mer Is­raeli prime min­is­ter, of­fered you a great two-state deal, in­clud­ing East Jerusalem - and you let it frit­ter away. Now, in­stead of chas­ing af­ter Obama and telling him you'll show up for ne­go­ti­a­tions any­where un­der any con­di­tions that the pres­i­dent asks, you're also set­ting your own terms. Here's some free ad­vice: When Amer­ica goes weak, if you think the Chi­nese will de­liver Is­rael for you, you're wrong. I know China well. It will sell you out for a boat­load of Is­raeli soft­ware, drones and mi­crochips so fast that your head will spin.

I un­der­stand the prob­lem: Is­raeli and Pales­tinian lead­ers can­not end the con­flict be­tween each other with­out hav­ing a civil war within their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties. Ne­tanyahu would have to take on the set­tlers and Ab­bas would have to take on Ha­mas and the Fatah rad­i­cals. Both men have silent ma­jori­ties that would back them if they did, but nei­ther man feels so un­com­fort­able with his present sit­u­a­tion to risk that civil war in­side to make peace out­side. There are no Abe Lin­colns out there.

What this means, ar­gues the He­brew Uni­ver­sity philoso­pher Moshe Hal­ber­tal, is that the win­dow for a two-state so­lu­tion is rapidly clos­ing. Is­rael will end up per­ma­nently oc­cu­py­ing the West Bank with its 2.5 mil­lion Pales­tini­ans. We will have a on­es­tate so­lu­tion. Is­rael will have in­side its belly 2.5 mil­lion Pales­tini­ans with­out the rights of cit­i­zen­ship, along with 1.5 mil­lion Is­raeli Arabs. " Then the only ques­tion will be what will be the na­ture of this one state - it will ei­ther be apartheid or Le­banon," said Hal­ber­tal. "We will be con­fronted by two hor­rors."

The most valu­able thing that Pres­i­dent Obama and Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton could do now is just get out of the pic­ture - so both lead­ers and both peo­ples have an unim­peded view of their hor­ri­ble fu­ture to­gether in one state, if they can't sep­a­rate. We must not give them any more ex­cuses, like: "Here comes the sec­re­tary of state again. Be pa­tient.

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