Obama backpedals on Israel, disappoints Arabs again

16:06, May 27, 2011      

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech at the U.S. Congress on May 24 and again stressed that Israel will not return to the 1967 lines in response to Obama's previous speech on the Middle East.

Obama's speech on the Middle East was his second that explicitly declared the U.S. Middle East policy after his speech in Cairo soon after he took the White House. Although Obama's speech on the Middle East peace process was not "excessive," it still aroused strong opposition from Israel. Obama first proposed that Palestine and Israel should launch negotiations based on the 1967 lines. This is actually not a new proposal because several previous U.S. administrations also took the same or similar stance, but this was the first time Obama spoken of it as president.

However, it still caused quite a stir. The Republicans began condemning Obama both in speech and writing when faced with the "anger" of Israel. They accused Obama of "betraying their strategic ally Israel." Newt Gingrich, former Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that this is the U.S. president's "most dangerous speech that threatens the survival of Israel" so far. Obama has been busy with "emergency fire-fighting" in recent days. He stressed that his speech was misunderstood. He did not mention the topic of the 1967 lines during talks with the visiting Netanyahu and also stressed that the United States will always comply with its duty to protect Israel's security.

Arabs had expected Obama to take an impartial stand on the conflict between Israel and Palestine, so the two sides may resume peace talks as soon as possible. However, Obama quickly backed off due to Netanyahu's angry response, letting down Palestine and other Arab countries again. History has repeatedly demonstrated that the United States always stands with Israel at crucial moments. It is impossible for the United States to promote the Middle East peace process at the expense of its relations with Israel.

As is known to all, the U.S.-Israel relationship has been almost unbreakable over the past half century despite occasional friction. The fundamental reason is that the two countries share the same ideology and values and have a lot of common ground and complementary strategic interests. The strategic position of Israel serves U.S. interests worldwide, especially in the Middle East.

Israel is an invaluable "strategic asset" to the United States. The superpower can benefit enormously from its strategic alliance with Israel in politics, economy, military, intelligence as well as others. Furthermore, Israel is the United States' most reliable and strongest ally in the Middle East, and the Obama administration needs Israel's assistance in reshaping the political, economic and military order in the region.

Generally speaking, Israel relies on the support of the United States in terms such as politics, diplomacy, economy, military and security. The United States serves as a strategic shield for the survival of Israel surrounded by the Arab world and the U.S.-Israel military cooperation has virtually provided Israel with a security umbrella. The United States cannot establish a new structure in the Middle East that shows its leadership status, holds its values and meets its strategic interests without help from Israel who acts as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in the Middle East.

The Bush administration once viewed the U.S.-Israel security cooperation as a major pillar of the security structure in the Middle East dominated by the United States. Currently, the "Arab Spring" is becoming increasingly fierce and the situation in the Middle East is full of uncertainties. The Middle East remains the world’s most sensitive and complicated region in terms of politics, economy and military and is still a focus of the diplomatic strategy of the United States. The United States needs the help from Israel to maintain its strategic advantages, fight terrorism as well as popularize democracy and western values in the Middle East. Therefore, whatever speeches Obama has made, the U.S.-Israel alliance is unlikely to be shaken.

(By Huang Peizhao, reporter of People's Daily Middle East branch. Translated by People's Daily Online)

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