Picking up my earlier post, Ben Smith does some further reporting on Gary Bauer’s position on a Palestinian state, in light of Bauer’s previous statement that “God granted the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and there is an absolute ban on giving it away to another people.” Smith notes that “Bauer didn’t specify exactly how far east his divine ban extends, and he’s suggested elsewhere that he does accept plans to create a Palestinian state.” I’m not sure how these two views are at all reconcilable, but of course Bauer could clear up the confusion by simply answering the question of where he stands on two states for two peoples.
Even more revealing about where ECI is coming from, however, is the response from spokesman Mike Goldfarb, who told Smith that “the group doesn’t have a position on the creation of a Palestinian state”:
“ECI is for a strong US-Israel relationship and a strong, secure Israel at peace with the Palestinians and all its neighbors — but Israel is a democratic ally that must determine for itself the best way to achieve this goal,” he said.
If there were only one country’s interests at stake here, this might be true. But the U.S. is deeply involved in the region, and is deeply implicated in, and affected by, policies and actions carried out by Israel, and therefore has a legitimate and vital national security interest in helping to determine the best way to achieve the goal of two states.
As I wrote earlier, support for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza became official U.S. policy under President George W. Bush, and President Obama has continued this policy, making it clear at the outset of his presidency that he considered the resolution of the conflict to be in both the U.S. and Israeli national security interests.
In his written testimony to Congress in March (pdf), Gen. David Petraeus affirmed this view, stating that “Insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace” is among the “root causes of instability [and] obstacles to security” in the region, and that progress on Middle East peace and the creation of two secure states was imperative to achieving U.S. goals.
But according to the Emergency Committee for Israel, apparently, the national security interests of the United States in the Middle East should be subordinated to whatever the current Israeli government wants. I find this bizarre, and I think most Americans would probably agree.