As an American Jew and an Israeli who cares deeply for Israel’s well being, I support President Obama in formulating a bold new approach to guaranteeing a secure and democratic Israel. I reject Nevet Basker’s contention that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem represents no problem for Israeli-Palestinian peace (“Myths and misperceptions,” April 9).
The claim that “everyone knows” which lands Israel will eventually keep is a poor excuse for acting with impunity and changing facts on the ground before a peace agreement is reached.
The confiscation of Palestinian land and its reclamation for Jewish settlers severely endanger the peace process — and yes, in East Jerusalem too (which most of the world views as occupied territory). Instead of only pointing fingers, we might wonder why, after more than 40 years, endless debate, countless bureaucratic decisions, and Supreme Court rulings, 500,000 Israelis now reside beyond the Green Line.
Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad demonstrate willingness to work with Israel on building a strong economy, maintaining security, and pursuing a peaceful solution. The behavior of the Israeli government in recent months undermines both their initiatives and the American commitment to the peace process.
Mantras that Arab denial of Israel’s legitimacy is the true obstacle to peace are both tired and useless. A real peace process demands new language, fresh perspectives, and the compassion to hear the other’s narrative. President Obama’s efforts can give Israelis and Palestinians a better life, while also promoting American national security interests. He deserves our support.