Far from securing the favor of active or passive (for the moment, at least) enemies of Israel, our willingness to urge an ally to make possibly fatal concessions -- in the face of nothing more than diplomatic pressure and negative public attitudes in the Arab world -- will breed contempt for America's power and our will to use it. We thus risk squandering the opportunity afforded by the recent demonstration of both in Afghanistan and Iraq.
2) It would weaken one of this country's most important allies in the war on terror. In 1967, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that Israel needed the West Bank and Golan Heights to assure its security from conventional threats. The effect of compelling Israel to relinquish such territory risks transforming Israel from a strong, self-reliant and independent actor into one whose strategic posture is seriously degraded -- possibly to such a degree that it will find itself increasingly preoccupied with existential threats, and more and more dependent (foolishly so) on U.S. security guarantees and assistance. The end result could be a net-drain on our defense resources at a time when we are overstretched and need all the help we can get.
3) It would undermine the moral imperative behind this war: Nations that are the targets of terror are not morally equivalent to the terrorists. President Bush clearly understands that free people and their governments are entitled to use force to protect themselves. When they do so, it is not part of a "cycle of violence"; it is a legitimate defensive action -- even when used preemptively -- to counter and defeat murderous enemies bent on destruction. To accept that this is untrue for Israel will ultimately make it untenable for the United States, as well.
On June 24, 2002, President Bush enunciated his "vision" for Mideast peace. One of its central tenets was the unequivocal statement that "The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure." This was the correct principle then, and it remains so today.
On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet explicitly reasserted this precondition (along with thirteen others) in its acceptance of the road map. Unlike the President's vision, however, the Quartet's road map says "provisional" boundaries for the Palestinian state will be established by the end of this year, whether terrorism has stopped or not. And Secretary of State Colin Powell insists that, while the U.S. will address "fully and seriously" Israel's concerns, there will be no changes to the road map,
Abandoning the precondition that Palestinian terror must stop before there is a Palestinian state certainly risks material, and possibly existential, harm to Israel. Even if that reality were not grounds enough for the United States to eschew an unaltered "road trap," the fact that it will also cause material harm to U.S. interests should be.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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