Knesset knot

It seems that Egypt's President Sadat is always being asked to walk an extra mile of forbearance in the face of Israeli violation of the Camp David spirit. By allowing the Palestinian autonomy talks to resume as scheduled next week, he would help to maintain that spirit despite Israel's latest show of defiance. This was a Knesset (Parliament) vote to affirm all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thus it included the Arab eastern sector whose 1967 annexation by Israel remains unrecognized by the third Camp David partner, Israel's continuing benefactor, the United States.

The action does not really change anything, except to add one more cloud over the peace process, as Israel's settlement policies in the occupied territories have frequently done. There is no question about American governmental and public support for the independence and security of Israel. But there is a question of how long American governmental and public opinion will want to subsidize an intransigent Israel to the tune of almost half of America's security assistance budget.

Indeed, such subsidy may be a disservice to elements in Israel that support a negotiated peace. As Sen. Adlai Stevenson said in June: "The government of israel is, of course, free to adopt any policy it chooses. But it should not be rewarded for dfying US interests, and that is what the US has been doing to the consternation of Israeli moderates."

After the Jerusalem vote, which had been initiated by an opponent of Camp David, one Israeli legislator said: "A handful of fanatics dragged the majority unwillingly." Whether he was right or not, the result has been to place not a handful of fanatics but Israel itself on record against the kind of negotiations that must come -- and to make it all the harder, if no less necessary, for President Sadat to return to the negotiating table.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.