A senior member of the House Republican caucus said on Wednesday that the United States should no longer focus on peace between the Israelis and the Palestinian because of other issues occurring in the region.
“With the current turmoil in Egypt, the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, and Iran’s continued progress toward full nuclear breakout capacity, Secretary Kerry must prioritize U.S. national security interests and focus on the imminent threats facing the region, the U.S. and our allies,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a statement (Ros-Lehtinen was formerly chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee). “The peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are quite important, but they should not be our first priority at the moment while other regional crises threaten to increase the already high tensions and further destabilize a region already on edge.”
Former CENTCOM chief Gen. James Mattis recently praised Kerry’s efforts, saying he’s “right on target with what he’s doing” in pushing for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Here’s why:
MATTIS: If I’m in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s ten thousand Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country. So we’ve got to work on this with a sense of urgency, and I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians.
Gen. Mattis’s predecessor, Gen. David Petraeus, said as much back in 2010. “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests” in the Middle East, he said. “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.”