Mackubin Thomas Owens' op-ed in last Friday's Wall Street Journal The President Takes a Hard Line on Israel, July 24, offers a persuasive argument with regard to the shortcomings of President Obama's Mideast policy, yet the author's utter disregard for Palestinian and Arab aspirations for a two-state reality pushes this piece into the realm of fantasy.
Firstly, Mr. Owens overlooks the opportunity of the Arab Peace Initiative while also delegitimizing the Palestinian grievance of the Israeli occupation. Let me be frank: Israel's right to exist, while legitimate and necessary, cannot be secured without the realization of a sovereign Palestinian state-- a situation which would ensure Israel's sustainability as a democracy and Jewish homeland.
Moreover, as Owens hails the 'unilateral steps toward peace' taken by Israel, such as disengagement from Gaza, he maneuvers around the Israeli blockade of this occupied territory (or ‘disputed' in his words) which has done little to stem extremism and quite oppositely has created a mini-Somalia in Israel's backyard.
But the thrust of Owens' argument is a baseless critique of the American president. In fact, Mr. Obama is not meddling in Israel's affairs but rather he is simply asking Mr. Netanyahu to uphold commitments which are agreed to by the international community and articulated in the Clinton Parameters. If Mr. Owens is truly as pro-Israel as he purports to be then it's clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state which acknowledges Israeli security concerns while ending the occupation will only strengthen Israel's standing in the world and create new opportunities for cooperation in the Middle East.
Mr. Owens is wrong that President Obama is taking a hard line on Israel.
Obama is only asking Israel to draw a red line at the green line.