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Israel appreciate's America's efforts

Reader comment on item: [An Israeli] Withdrawal Won't Work

Submitted by Doody Kaminskie (United States), May 1, 2002

Dear America,

Many Israelis appreciate the effort you are making to calm the situation here, even if not all Israelis agree. There are patriots who are disgusted with the pressure you occasionally apply, like that imposed on the prime minister this week. But you should know there are other Israelis who are convinced you are not properly fulfilling the role you took upon yourself to bring quiet to the region.

Some hesitate to say this to your leaders. As you know from your own experience, in anxious times nations like to warm themselves around the camp fire of unity and to take up defenses against those who criticize them from without. They are particularly upset by those from within who invite the criticism.

Nonetheless, you should listen to those voices. This week Bush made Sharon return Yasser Arafat's freedom of movement while leaving Rehavam Ze'evi's killers in the territories. You surely noticed how the Israeli media described the president's demand as unprecedented pressure. That's the way we are, we sometimes tend to exaggerate. But the truth is that the American demand was actually quite modest. It dealt with an issue that anyway was going to be resolved after Operation Defensive Shield.

The pressure wasn't about the real issues, like implementation of the Mitchell recommendations, which have seemingly been approved by both sides. The pressure was only a reiteration of previous demands that went unfulfilled. Moreover, the president did not press the other demand for IDF forces to withdraw from all the Palestinian cities. Beneath the huge headlines about the terrible pressure, we sent forces into Qalqiliyah and Hebron.

This is a regrettable continuation of your policies of the past year. Emissaries of the greatest power in the world left here with their heads hanging. The lone superpower also spared the Palestinian Authority the full brunt of its pressure. General Zinni evaporated here twice, among other reasons because of the wave of terror attacks that killed dozens of our citizens. Colin Powell came in the wake of that junior envoy. But even he didn't arrive with a clear working plan.

Veteran observers in Israel - as in America and Europe - are laying a heavy blame on America. You aren't really interested in a serious attempt to bring the parties to negotiations. U.S. power enables it to make that demand of both sides, but Bush's main goal is an assault on Iraq. A comprehensive effort to eliminate Saddam Hussein requires a supportive Arab coalition as well as Israeli cooperation and those don't sit well with real pressure on Sharon and Arafat to make concessions.

This is no way to come up with results. American hesitation, sometimes hidden by occasional arm-twisting on marginal matters, shows the sides that they can continue marching on their way to disaster. This week proved the prime minister can change his declared direction. Even Sharon's most harsh critics will recommend that you realize this politician is capable of zig-zagging, as he said about himself, when he sees no other choice. America's great advantage as an effective international player is based on the fact its interests generally match global needs. Your intentions are legitimate, even if your power is sometimes degenerate. Use it to the best to make the sides in this damnable conflict zig-zag toward negotiations for an agreement.

Such an effort, which hasn't been made since the beginning of the last decade, does not, of course, guarantee quick results. But the process itself is necessary. Your active support and the European Union's will create a dynamic similar to that imposed on the sides after the Madrid Conference. Don't pretend that you're working in that direction.

Don't lie to yourself and us through hesitant, dubious alternatives - Israel and the PA are just not capable of making the change on their own. We need your help, America, just as you need regional calm for your own purposes.

Dear America, for God's sake, get moving, before it gets worse, much worse, over here.

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