Jewish Journal

Obama to endorse Israel withdrawal from West Bank?

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 16, 2008 | 6:49 pm

There is a report in today’s Sunday Times that will likely confirm Omri Ceren’s worst fears and Philip Weiss’ greatest hopes about a Barack Obama presidency. To be sure the move would be supported by many Israelis, including the leader of the ruling party, but American Jews aren’t most Israelis, and I really don’t see the StandWithUs crowd agreeing that handing over the territories seized in the Six Day War will ensure peace.

The Times of London reports:

Obama intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party.

The proposal gives Israel an effective veto on the return of Arab refugees expelled in 1948 while requiring it to restore the Golan Heights to Syria and allow the Palestinians to establish a state capital in east Jerusalem.

On a visit to the Middle East last July, the president-elect said privately it would be “crazy” for Israel to refuse a deal that could “give them peace with the Muslim world”, according to a senior Obama adviser.


A bipartisan group of senior foreign policy advisers urged Obama to give the Arab plan top priority immediately after his election victory. They included Lee Hamilton, the former co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Democrat former national security adviser. Brzezinski will give an address tomorrow at Chatham House, the international relations think tank, in London.

Brent Scowcroft, a Republican former national security adviser, joined in the appeal. He said last week that the Middle East was the most troublesome area in the world and that an early start to the Palestinian peace process was “a way to psychologically change the mood of the region”.

Advisers believe the diplomatic climate favours a deal as Arab League countries are under pressure from radical Islamic movements and a potentially nuclear Iran. Polls show that Palestinians and Israelis are in a mood to compromise.

The advisers have told Obama he should lose no time in pursuing the policy in the first six to 12 months in office while he enjoys maximum goodwill.

Uh oh. The Times used the z-word, not to mention the s-word.

To be sure, many American Jews have been convinced Obama would pushed for such a path to peace, which explains why only 19 percent of American Jews think resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be Obama’s top priority. That and the economic meltdown.

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