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Note to the Obama Administration: Make Palestinians Accountable

May 14, 2009 By:
Morton A. Klein
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Next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet in Washington with President Barack Obama. Israel and the United States remain far apart on many issues. Obama wants Israel to agree to establishing a Palestinian state, retreating to the indefensible 1967 borders. Israel doesn't accept this, and the Arabs have said that no compromise will be considered.

Israel wants the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its obligations under the Oslo accords and road-map agreements to end terror and incitement, and to accept Israel as a Jewish state. Obama has made no such demands on the Palestinians. And Obama officials -- Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- have all said or implied that Israel will get little or no help in facing the existential Iranian nuclear threat unless Israel capitulates to U.S. demands.

More evidence of an upcoming clash is Clinton's statement last month that Israel must stop building Israeli/Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem, yet must allow illegally built Arab homes to remain. She called Jewish construction "unhelpful" to peace.

Suddenly, parts of the ancient Jewish city of Jerusalem are places where Jews may not move or build. What a radical transformation of Clinton's position from what it was when, as New York's senator, she stated: "I believe that Israel's right to exist in safety as a Jewish state with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital must never be questioned."

The notion that setting up a Palestinian state will end the conflict is a tragic delusion based on the false idea that Palestinians accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, and merely seek their own state living peacefully alongside Israel. In fact, the P.A. leadership has repeatedly rejected accepting Israel as such; both the constitution of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party and the Hamas Charter call for terrorism and Israel's destruction.

Indeed, there can be no hope of ending the Arab war against Israel unless there is a transformation of the Arab/ Muslim culture that promotes hatred and violence against Israel in their schools, media, sermons and speeches.

Moreover, Palestinian polls show consistent opposition to Israel's existence while approving terrorism.

Two examples: A February 2007 Near East Consulting poll showed that 75 percent of Palestinians reject Israel's right to exist. A January 2009 Jerusalem Media and Communications Center poll showed 56 percent of Palestinians support continued suicide bombings against Israel.

Just a few weeks ago, Abbas stated: "I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish state." Muhammad Dahlan, former commander of Gazan Fatah forces, has been equally clear: "We do not demand that Hamas recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand Hamas not recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel, even today."

This should not be surprising. No maps in the Palestinian Authority show Israel, only "Palestine."

That's why seven years ago, Netanyahu said that "saying 'yes' to a Palestinian state means saying 'no' to the Jewish state."

On the most monumental threat to Israel, it is frightening to see Obama linking U.S. support for Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue to Israel allowing a Palestinian state and the division of Jerusalem. Friends do not make that type of monstrous threat, and Israel's supporters must demand an end to this linkage.

President Obama has been emphatic on the theme of needing to change old, failed policies. Ignoring and not penalizing Palestinian failure to end terror and incitement is just such an old, failed policy.

Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

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