US mediation in the Middle East makes matters worse

US-Israel relationship

US-Israel relationship

Something that many people have felt sub-consciously for many years has been given expression in this interesting and incisive analysis in Yisrael Hayom by Boaz Bismuth – how US mediation in the Arab-Israeli conflict has only made matters worse.  It also explains the constant tensions in the US-Israel relationship, a relationship that should in theory be plain sailing given the similar liberal democratic traditions in both countries.

Well-meaning U.S. mediation between Israel and its Arab neighbors began in 1949 in an effort to advance peace and enhance U.S. leadership and influence in the Middle East and beyond. This mediation has failed on both accounts, and has dealt a blow to vital U.S. economic and national security interests.

U.S. mediation has yet to produce a single Israel–Arab peace treaty – and moreover, the only two Israel–Arab peace treaties were initiated directly between the parties without U.S. participation.

Prime Minister Menachem Begin initiated the 1979 Israel–Egypt peace treaty that was then embraced by President Anwar Sadat, in defiance of U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s preference for an international conference over direct Israel–Egypt negotiations. Carter at first attempted to derail the initiative – by pressuring Israel on Jerusalem and the Palestinian issues – but then jumped on the peace bandwagon and played a critical role in sealing the peace treaty.

The 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestinians was introduced by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, surprising U.S. President Bill Clinton, who then facilitated the signing of the agreement. Similarly, the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty was the brainchild of Prime Minister Rabin, adopted by King Hussein and codified by President Clinton during the signing ceremony.

In contrast, several U.S. peace initiatives not only failed to produce peace, but inadvertently fueled Arab belligerence. They were based on the morally wrong and strategically flawed “land for peace” concept, which rewards aggressors instead of penalizing them, thereby fueling further aggression and punishing the intended victim.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

…The attempt to be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians has defied reality and U.S. interests. While Israel has been an unconditional ally of the U.S. and a role model for countering terrorism, the Palestinians have actively and ideologically sided with U.S. enemies and rivals: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Bloc, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. They celebrated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; condemned the execution of Saddam and bin Laden; participated in the murder of 300 U.S. Marines during the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marines headquarters in Beirut; murdered two U.S. ambassadors in Khartoum in 1973; and established an anti-Semitic and anti-U.S. education system – which has manufactured a line of anti-U.S. terrorists and suicide bombers.

U.S. mediation has been based on the false assumption that the Arab–Israeli conflict is a root cause of Middle East turbulence, creating a delusional connection between the 100-year-old Arab–Israeli conflict and the overarching 1,400-year-old intra-Muslim turbulence in the region. It has diverted U.S. resources from primary to secondary causes of instability in the Middle East, thus undermining U.S. deterrence. It has radicalized Arab expectations for sweeping Israeli concessions, thus inflaming Arab belligerence and terrorism and intensifying tension between U.S. and Israeli administrations.

[...]

In 1967, Saudi Arabia welcomed Israel’s devastation of pro-Soviet Egypt and Syria, which aimed to topple the House of Saud. In 1990, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were focused on the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but the Bush–Baker team was preoccupied with Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. In 2012, Saudi Arabia and most Arab countries yearn for a U.S., or Israeli, pre-emptive strike against Iran, which they consider a clear and present lethal threat. They are anti-Israel and wish its destruction, but they do not consider the Arab–Israeli conflict, or the Palestinian issue, to be their primary concerns. They understand that when smothered by a sandstorm, one should not be preoccupied with tumbleweeds.

I really could quote the article but I’ll simply recommend that you read the whole thing.  I would just add that the same arguments regarding the Americans could and should be applied equally to the Europeans and the Quartet.

But is anyone listening?

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