An immediate and direct threat to the very existence of the State of Israel is the recent agreement between Hamas and Fatah, who have decided to form a joint government for Gaza and the West Bank. The Times on May 2 reported, “Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction. Israel, like the United States and the European Union classifies the group as a terrorist organization and refuses any dealings with it.” Prime Minister Netanyahu, responding to the announcement of the new Palestinian coalition, said, “Peace is possible only with those who want to live in peace alongside us and not with those who want to destroy us.”
The Hamas position on the death of bin Laden says it all. Hamas leader Haniyeh stated the following on the death of bin Laden: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs.”
| Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the media during a news conference in Gaza City May 2. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday condemned the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden and mourned him as an "Arab holy warrior." Reuters/Ismail Zaydah
There are more than one million Arabs living in Israel who are citizens of the state yet it is the policy of the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) that the West Bank and Arab areas of East Jerusalem be Judenrein (free of Jews). Further, the Palestinian Authority will not agree that when and if a peace agreement is arrived at that the state of Israel will be recognized by the new Palestinian state as a Jewish state; while Israel and the world accepts that the new Palestinian state will be Muslim.
In contrast and according to The New York Times of April 10, “[d]ozens of Israel’s most honored intellectuals and artists have signed a declaration endorsing a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders and asserting that an end of Israel’s occupation ‘will liberate the two peoples and open the way to a lasting peace.’ ”
Is there a single Arab state in the Arab League of 22 states that has ever seen a group of Arab intellectuals make a declaration favorable to Israel in the years since Israel was founded in 1948? Indeed, Arab professionals living in Egypt and Jordan, states that are nominally at peace with Israel, risk losing their professional licenses if they even visit Israel as tourists. In contrast, tens of thousands of Israelis have visited Egypt and Jordan.
The Obama administration’s approach towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is matched by its recent regrettable approach towards Egypt. Our support of the so-called “Arab Spring” as the harbinger of democratic change in the Arab world has resulted in the house arrest of the U.S. ally, Hosni Mubarak, who is threatened with a criminal trial and a possible death penalty. Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians recently demonstrated every day, is where Lara Logan, a U.S. television reporter, was torn from her crew when they were filming by a mob of Egyptian male demonstrators who stripped her, groped her sexually and raped her, as she said in an interview on “60 Minutes,” “with their hands.” She reported during the assault someone shouted she was an Israeli and a Jew (she is neither) and she believed the mob was going to kill her. So much for the “Arab Spring.” She was fortunately rescued by a group of Egyptian women and Egyptian soldiers.
It was President Obama who announced every day for a week, “Mubarak must go.” The Egyptian Army arrested their president. What has followed his removal? The border between Gaza and Egypt heretofore blockaded by the Egyptian Army is now open and the smuggling of war materials through tunnels no longer needed; they can now be transported openly on trucks.
Who will enforce the Sadat/Mubarak agreement not to allow Egyptian army personnel into the Sinai above a stated limited number? No one. Certainly not the U.N. or the U.S. The U.S. has sent its armed forces into Iraq and Afghanistan and hopes to maintain them there far out into the future. The U.S. has used our armed forces to support the rebels in Libya. We have no idea what those rebels stand for. Hopefully, we will assassinate Gadhafi, but should we be using our air force to help the rebels in Libya? I don’t think so.
The Obama administration should rethink its approach to the Muslim world and to the Arab-Israeli conflict so that our enemies, such as Iran, are not emboldened and our remaining allies, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, do not lose faith in our willingness to stand with them.
The Navy Seals who conducted the covert entry into Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden deserve Congressional Medals of Honor and an appropriate medal should be awarded to CIA director Leon Panetta. God bless them, President Barack Obama and the United States of America.
Edward I. Koch, who served as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, is a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave.