President Obama has signalled that he does not intend to impose his own two-state solution on Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a letter sent by him to Alan Solow - the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations dated 20 April 2010.
Rumors had been rife that President Obama was going to present his own two-state plan if the stalled negotiations under the Roadmap proposed in 2003 by his predecessor - George Bush - continued to remain in limbo or reached a dead end.
President Obama’s undertaking not to do so was given to Mr Solow in clear and unequivocal terms : "I am deeply committed to fulfilling the important role the United States must play for peace to be realized, but I also recognize that in order for any agreement to endure, peace cannot be imposed from the outside…”
President Obama still apparently believes the two-state solution proposed by the Bush Roadmap - involving the creation of a new Arab state between Jordan, Egypt and Israel - can be achieved. He would be among the very few that still cling to that view.
However he has now made it clear that if it fails to eventuate in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority - he is not going try to impose his own version on Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Pointedly the President went further in his letter to Mr Solow when he stated: “ … it (peace) must be negotiated directly by the leaders who are required to make the hard choices and compromises that take on history.”
Although this call was directed to both Jews and Arabs - it was primarily directed at both the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League who need to make the hard choices and compromises they have historically refused to concede until now.
Israel has already made many such choices and compromises that have turned history on its head including:
- Accepting the idea of a third State in Mandatory Palestine - in addition to Israel and Jordan
- Accepting the division of Jerusalem between Israel and an Arab entity
- Accepting the idea of compensating Arab refugees from the 1948 War - and their descendants -and possibly resettling some of those refugees in Israel
One can argue Israel can go further in the steps it is prepared to take in the face of such compromises- but this cannot deny or devalue the offers made by Israel in 2000 and 2008 in the context of those compromises - that were rejected by the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority and the Arab League however should be in no doubt as to the meaning and intent of President Obama’s carefully crafted letter so far as it relates to them.
The Arab League has - for the last 62 years - singularly failed to change its policy on recognizing Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and has unceasingly demanded the right for millions of Arab refugees and their descendants to return to Israel.
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