If You Like Your Mideast Policy, You Can Keep It

By Barry Rubin

War without end. That is what the Obama administration promises the US, Israel and the Palestinians. If the current Obama-Kerry plan for an Israel-Palestinian deal is implemented, scores of Americans will likely die. This was revealed recently by US Secretary of State John Kerry, particularly in a speech at the Saban Forum. (By the way, the Saban Forum speech was made appropriately on December 7, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.)

The Obama administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly - which of course it will not.

According to the plan, the United States would gradually create and maintain the agreement by policing an independent Palestinian state. Israel would be protected by the US forces, and Palestine would be protected from Israel by them. And that's part of the problem, because the Palestinians would stage a huge number of protests against and complaints regarding Israel's actions, likely demanding more concessions.

In addition, the Palestinians, particularly Hamas, would see the new Palestinian state as perpetually victimized. They would mobilize any Arab forces they could to back their complaints. It would be a nightmare. But what the wrong-headed people in the Obama administration do not understand is that they would be under constant challenge. They do not understand that no matter what they say, Hamas, Fatah, Iran, Syria, al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists - and most likely Saudi Arabia - will never accept an Israeli state. In other words, if Americans are on the ground, they will be targeted.

Now the question is, what will they do? Will they "protect" Israel? And what is the definition of protecting Israel? And what about gaps in this protection or disagreement among the observers? In his Saban speech, Kerry said, "Our commitment to Israel's security spurred the US-Israeli development of ballistic missile defense technologies to keep Israelis safe from rockets and missiles. Those systems and newer technologies continue to protect Israelis from the range of threats that they still face today."

What about a large number of cross-border attacks? Will Americans attack Palestinians if they violate the agreement? May I point out that at various times Iraqi, Hamas and Hezbollah rockets have landed on Israel with no US defensive action. Again, the most important point is not Iranian nuclear weapons but routine policing of a Palestinian state, not to mention Israel's Lebanon-Syria border.

Are we to believe that American helicopters, airplanes and ground soldiers would attack when the whole effort of this exercise had been to avoid military commitments? How many years would this neo-mandate continue? Will the United States intimidate certain countries if necessary? Remember that the US didn't even support the military government in Egypt.

The US may suffer a great number of casualties over time. Note the 3,400 deaths of Western coalition soldiers in Afghanistan so far.

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The author is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya and is editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) journal. His latest books are The Israel- Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

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