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Tilting towards the Palestinians

Last week, the Bush administration took the Palestinian side in a dispute over Israel’s decision to build a fence to prevent terrorist attacks. It seems unconscionable that our government would second-guess a purely defensive measure undertaken by Israel to save the lives of its citizens (the fact that the fence is the Labor Party’s idea, not necessarily Sharon’s, strikes me as irrelevant). Saul Singer of the Jerusalem Post has the same reaction in this piece for National Review Online. Singer also lists other issues as to which he claims the U.S. has taken the Palestinian side or remained agnostic in ways that hurt Israel’s position — such as settlements, borders, and Jerusalem. The U.S. nonetheless is correctly considered Israel’s great friend because it has steadfastly upheld Israel’s right to exist. However, Singer is concerned that, since June 24, 2002, the Bush administration has not adequately signaled the legitimacy of Israel’s insistence that a Palestinian right of return to Israel is not on the negotiating table. Since that issue goes to the heart of Israel’s survival, the U.S. must take a clear pro-Israel stance on it. But don’t expect this to happen, since Colin Powell undoubtedly would regard such a stance as “not helpful.”

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