April 4, 2010
Saudi Arabia and the Peace ProcessBy Ted Belman
The trouble with the peace process is that it is rigged against Israel. It is a vehicle forced on her by the international community to enable it to impose its will on her.
It all started with UNSC Res 242, which established the principle of land for peace. Just how much land or peace was not described. It was left to the parties to each cut a deal. This resolution in no way threatened Israel because she was left with a free hand to define what she considered to be "secure" borders. In the meantime, she was authorized by the U.N., by virtue of this resolution, to remain in occupation.
Over the years, the U.S. forced Israel to participate in a "peace process" that kept limiting her negotiating room. Today she is faced with accepting the Saudi Plan (1967 borders and a divided Jerusalem) or having it imposed on her.
This is so even though both houses of Congress have in the past supported a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In April 1990, the House, with the Senate concurring, passed a resolution acknowledging that "Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel" and expressing the belief that "Jerusalem must remain an undivided city. It did so recognizing that "since 1967[,] Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel" and because of "ambiguous statements by the Government of the United States concerning the right of Jews to live in all parts of Jerusalem [that] raise concerns in Israel that Jerusalem might one day be redivided."
In 1995, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses. It provided that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999." It went so far as to cut appropriations to the Executive by 50% for certain purposes until such time as the Embassy was opened.
This legislation was at odds with the constitutional power of the president to conduct foreign policy and to recognize foreign sovereignty over territory. All presidents since its passage have exercised their waivers semi-annually to postpone this legislation.
It seems reasonably clear that Congress cannot usurp the power of the president to make foreign policy.
Israel's liberation from this deadly process depends solely on Americans taking back their country. A new president could overrule the State Department and endorse the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
You will recall that President Truman thwarted his State Department and instructed his Ambassador to the U.N. to be the first to recognize Israel.
Richard Holbrooke, in a fascinating article titled "Washington's Battle Over Israel's Birth" explains the tug-of-war between two groups: President Truman and Clark Clifford favoring recognition on the one side, and Secretary of State George C. Marshall and his entourage at the State Department favoring a U.N. trusteeship instead of partition on the other.
Secretary of Defense Forrestal explained to Clifford what motivated his group: "There are thirty million Arabs on one side and about 600,000 Jews on the other. Why don't you face up to the realities?"
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. (The more things change, the more they remain the same.)
But Holbrooke himself begged to differ:
A recent bipartisan poll commissioned by The Israel Project found that "[b]y an 8 to 1 Margin, Americans Say U.S. Should Side with Israel in Conflict with the Palestinians." Yet Obama and the State Department have a polar opposite view.
Governor Palin has described Obama's foreign policy effectively as kissing up to our enemies and dumping on our allies, particularly "our most treasured ally, Israel."
Just in the past week, 327 congressmen signed a letter to Secretary Clinton, above mentioned, reaffirming support for Israel in these terms,
...and expressing "deep concern over recent tension." In other words, Obama was being blamed for the tension and was expected to end it. The letter also said that "we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program."
Unfortunately, this letter was silent on Obama's plans to divide Jerusalem. It would be of great value in the battle for Jerusalem now being waged by Israel if both houses would once again reaffirm their desire to have the U.S. recognize a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
There is a headwind blowing in U.S. national politics, and Israel can surely benefit from it. At the moment, the headwind is fueled by the anger over the passing of the health care bill and the growing debt and deficits. But it goes beyond specifics to general anger over Obama's apparent Marxist and Muslim proclivities manifested in his policies.
"Take back our country" means return it to our constitutional, capitalistic, and Judeo-Christian roots. This movement will embrace a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a heartbeat.
While President Obama is not about to oppose the State Department, the next president could, particularly if he or she campaigns on the issue. Governors Palin and Huckabee are already on record in support of a United Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The problem is that the Saudis have the U.S. over a barrel of oil. When P.M. Sharon formed a government in 2001, he sent his son to advise Arafat that Barak's deal was off the table and that Sharon could envision a process whereby the Palestinians might end up with forty-five percent of the occupied territories, but not Jerusalem.
Bush 43, on taking office in 2000, decided not to get involved with a peace process as President Clinton had done. For the Saudis, this wasn't good enough.
It appeared that the United States had made a strategic decision to adopt Sharon's policy as American policy, or so the Crown Prince understood.
He sent Prince Bandar to Bush with an urgent message: "Starting today, you go your way and we will go our way. From then on, the Saudis will look out for their own national interests."
Within thirty-six hours, Bandar was on his way to Riyadh with a conciliatory response from Bush. When Bandar returned, Powell cornered him.
As a result of this exchange, Pres Bush made his vision speech in June '02 in which he supported a Palestinian state subject to many preconditions. Ten months later, the U.S. invaded Iraq with Saudi blessing, and one week later, the Roadmap was announced, which included the Saudi Plan calling for a Palestinian state with '67 borders subject to minor changes and East Jerusalem as its capital.
Sharon first reacted to the new American direction by saying that Israel was no Czechoslovakia, and then he never mentioned it again. He decided to cut his losses. He announced the Disengagement Plan from Gaza, thinking it would strengthen Israel's hold on Judea and Samaria. He even got Bush to issue a letter in '04 acknowledging that "[i]n light of the new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be the full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."
Obama has now rejected that letter as binding and is pushing for the Saudi Plan. Obviously, the Saudis and Obama will not give up on East Jerusalem for the Palestinians.
Israel must continue to claim Jerusalem -- all of it -- as its undivided capital. Obama will be left with no option but to abandon Israel so far as his executive powers permit him. Should the S.C. go so far as to attempt to impose a solution, it will have in effect abrogated the Roadmap, thereby freeing Israel of it. Obama may not be prepared to go this far, what with Nov. '10 elections looming and presidential primaries a year later.
In addition, Saudi Arabia is pushing America to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This is a more pressing concern for them. So far, Obama has not agreed.
Other factors that may force the peace process to the back burner is a possible third intifadah or war with Hamas or Hezbollah, or an Israeli attack on Iran.
Israel must withstand the pressure to give into Obama's demands. The upcoming elections will ameliorate the pressure, and hopefully the next president, probably a Republican, will end the pressure altogether.
Republicans should pledge themselves in these upcoming elections to make America energy-independent within ten years by exploiting all available sources of energy. It can be done. It's the only that way Americans can fully take back their country and rid themselves of Saudi pressure both at home and abroad.
Without the Saudis making trouble, America and Israel are natural allies.
Ted Belman is the editor of Israpundit. He recently made aliyah from Canada and is now living in Jerusalem.