October 11, 2011 | Quote

Washington’s Stance on Israel and Mideast Peace is Murky

At a conference organized by the neo-conservative groups Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute on Capitol Hill yesterday on “The U.S.-Israel Relationship: Twenty Years after Oslo,” John Hannah, former national security adviser for Vice President Dick Cheney, noted that the conflict has become a dominating issue for the Obama Administration's Middle Eastern agenda.

“It's almost an apostasy to ask that maybe we shouldn't devote so much energy and resources to an issue that is there for six decades,” he said.

Another panelist, Kenneth Stein, director of the Middle East Research program at Emory University, called on the conference participants “to question our own assumptions.” “Is the Palestinian state in the U.S. national interest? Or will it destabilize Jordan and the region?”

Former Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams noted that it seemed that “everybody focused on the handshake on the South Lawn,” and the U.S. “should push much harder for its principles. … We were too much focused on transactions, not transformations. You cannot have leaders who are managers, you need leaders who have will and courage. Maybe Abbas is just an interim leader. We can't do the same thing over and over and hope it will bring different results. We can't choose the Palestinian leadership, but we can repeat constantly – on this the Bush administration did better – that we are Israel's friends and allies. When you see groups like the Quartet obsessed about every brick [in the settlements] – now the Palestinians say they cannot go to the negotiations table because of the construction, now it's the new excuse.”