In the Middle East, no time to spare
Bush must push hard for a two-state solution.
St. Paul, Minn.
As President Bush commences his twilight foray into Arab-Israeli diplomacy, he is confronted by a singular and regrettable fact: Israel's long-term survival is not necessarily a given. Threatened by Islamic radicalism, demographic trends, and advances in missile technology, the Jewish state may be living on borrowed time. If he is to help redeem Israel from a tenuous future, Mr. Bush must reiterate one message above all: There will be no peace without a viable Palestinian state.Skip to next paragraph
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Bush's nine-day, six-nation tour of the region will be overshadowed by the irony that the outlines of the only realistic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict have been in place since 1947, the year before Israel was founded. Impelled by the moral imperative of creating a haven for Jews after the Nazi Holocaust, the United Nations proposed that geographical Palestine be divided into Jewish and Arab (Palestinian) states. Sixty years later, a two-state solution remains an indispensable basis for peacemaking.
The obstacles to creating a Palestinian state are formidable. Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets, issues concerning the future status of Jerusalem, water rights, the expansion of Jewish settlements, and the right of return for Palestinians who left or were expelled from Israel in 1948 and 1967 have all bedeviled would-be peacemakers for decades. But if patience with intractability has been an option until now, it no longer remains so, and for three momentous reasons:
The second is advances in weapons technology, the implications of which were amply demonstrated when rockets fired by Hizbullah forces in Lebanon paralyzed Israel's major northern city, Haifa, during the 2006 Lebanon war. With extended missile ranges all but inevitable, Tel Aviv itself could one day be at risk.