Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did Obama Just Say That US Commitment To Israel's Security Is Conditional?

As expected, Obama referred to Israel when he addressed the UN General Assembly:
Now, I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us -- not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, but all of us -- must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we will only lend it lip service. To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. (Applause.)

And -- and nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's
legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security. (Applause.) [emphasis added]

On this, Dr. Aaron Lermer raises a valid concern:

Is this a threat to take us back to the toolshed for a thrashing if we don't dance to his tune - or worse?

Here is how this kind of threatening talk boomerangs:

What kind of "risks for peace" can we take if the President of the United States says in a carefully prepared address to the UN that as far as he is concerned if at any time in the future - no matter what concessions and withdrawals we make - if we find ourselves in a dispute with the Palestinians and American thinks the Palestinians have a point then we can kiss America's "unwavering commitment to our security" goodbye.

It is somewhat discomfiting how far Obama is willing to go to push Israel to "respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians" while doing nothing to have the Palestinians declare openly that they respect the legitimate claims and rights of Israel.

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