Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Conservatives should support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Speaking on Fox News yesterday, Rush Limbaugh declared that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be resolved only when ''one side surrendered''; for Limbaugh at least, Kerry's peace efforts are a waste of time. I strongly disagree with this assessment. Instead, I think there are four important reasons why the pursuit of peace deserves the support of American conservatives.

1) National Security - Resolving this conflict is a critical interest of American national security. The continued suffering of the Palestinian people (both real and perceived) feeds anti-American extremism around the world and in so, helps to weaken the position of regional pro-American moderates like President Abbas. Islamic extremists thrive in the well of absent justice. As numerous national security officials have stated, a durable peace deal would serve American interests in crucial ways. This isn't left wing hyperbole, rather it's the analysis of top military thinkers like Gen. Petraeus

Those who argue in implicit support for perpetual conflict are either willfully delusional or poorly informed. Or both.

2) Diplomacy - The US Secretary of State's primary responsibility is to advance the cause of American diplomacy. Peace building efforts have always been a central component of this effort. Let's cut the BS. There's simply no reason why the US Government cannot manage the Egyptian crisis whilst also advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Since when have conservatives favored an America that seeks only to manage events, rather than taking an active, positive stake in shaping them? If we believe in global leadership our global efforts cannot exist in a 9-5 mentality.

3) Legitimacy - In another regard, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays an intimate role in shaping delusional understandings of both America and Israel. These false conceptions of truth serve to weaken our voice in the Islamic world and beyond. A durable peace deal would empower the US with a newly perceived legitimacy on a range of other diplomatic issues - engendering further co-operation on counter-terrorism for example. Our influence would grow.

4) Israel - American conservatives (myself included) have always regarded Israel as an important ally. But we do no service to our friends if we lack the courage of boldness. Again, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would greatly advance the interests of the Israeli people. From trade to security, peace would empower Israeli society. Though some like to claim that Israel's security wall has won the Israeli people a secure future, the facts speak to another reality. For years, successive Israeli Prime Ministers (including Netanyahu) have entertained serious compromises in pursuit of peace. They recognize that a lasting deal is crucial for Israel's security.

Let me be clear, I'm not advocating that Israel make all the concessions - Palestinian reciprocity must be equally forthcoming and energetic (and Palestinian recognition of Israel's Jewish existence is obviously non-negotiable). Nor am I blind to the nature of Israel's enemies - Hamas are anti-Semitic totalitarians and the Lebanese Hizballah are anti-democratic thugs. These enemies will not cease to exist when a peace deal is eventually signed. However, they will be weakened. 

In the end, I firmly believe that by using the existing negotiating templates of Camp David 2000 and Olmert 2008 (which have addressed numerous issues of contention: right of return, West Bank, water etc.), a just peace is reachable. Peace is always a noble ambition worthy of our support.

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