Why is resolving the conflict a key US interest?
We are all too familiar with what former US Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Dan Kurtzer calls the “Washington Consensus,” the inclination to leave the conflict alone, manage it from afar, and hope for the best. According to this conventional wisdom, the political risks of engaging in peace efforts are too high and the odds of success are too low.
What We Say:
Each American president since Israel’s founding has come to realize they cannot ignore this conflict and the US has a huge interest in solving it.
As President Barack Obama shapes US policy to respond to dramatic change in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies at the forefront of that fight. Solving the conflict would severely weaken violent groups like Al Qaeda, which use anger over US support for the Israeli occupation to recruit new followers. It would help strengthen US ties with Arab governments facing constant pressure from their people for an end to the occupation. And as the US works to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would weaken Iran’s ability extend its regional influence by demonizing Israel.
Without a resolution to the conflict, Jews will eventually become a minority in the land under Israeli control, forcing Israel to make the unfathomable choice between its Jewish and democratic character. This “one-state nightmare” would face unprecedented international condemnation and isolation and strain Israel’s alliance with the US.
For the Record:
Former CIA Director General David Petraeus:
“The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests.” Jerusalem Post, 3/18/2012
Former National Security Advisor General James Jones:
“I’m of the belief that had God appeared in front of President Obama in 2009 and said if he could do one thing on the face of the planet, and one thing only, to make the world a better place and give people more hope and opportunity for the future, I would venture that it would have something to do with finding the two-state solution to the Middle East.” Jerusalem Post, 2/8/11
Secretary of State John Kerry:
“So much of what we aspire to achieve and what we need to do globally, what we need to do in the Maghreb and South Asia, South Central Asia, throughout the Gulf, all of this is tied to what can or doesn't happen with respect to Israel-Palestine.” Ynet, 1/24/2013
“In the past, we came closest to peace when we had American leadership that encouraged everyone to make hard choices and earned credibility with all sides.” Brookings Institution, 3/4/2009
President Barack Obama:
“The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this, because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable.” Washington Post, 5/14/2008
Security expert Bruce Riedel made the strong case that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses a national security threat to the US. Middle East Policy Council
The Boston Study Group on Middle East Peace noted the “incontestable” benefits of a two-state solution for the US. Boston Study Group on Middle East Peace, 3/2010
Middle East expert Alon Ben-Meir argued that “the United States has both the interest and the responsibility to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian self-consuming conflict in a region where the stakes for all concerned cannot be overestimated.” Huffington Post, 10/1/2012
Palestine-Israel Journal co-editor Hillel Schenker wrote that “a serious new American peace initiative in the Middle East is an absolute necessity for all of us, Americans, Israelis and Palestinians.” Times of Israel, 1/3/2013