Understanding President Obama

The Obama Administration hit the ground running on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within hours of the inauguration. From the President's first phone calls -- to the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt and Jordan -- up to this past week, when the Administration successfully pressured Israel to open the Gaza border and suspend construction on the West Bank Separation Barrier, President Obama has been very clear on his firm commitment to taking the lead in brokering a negotiated two-state resolution of the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, with the swirl of activity, it can be hard to keep up with the various policy initiatives of the Administration and the impact they have had thus far. To aid our activists in advocating on behalf of the Obama Administration's peace initiatives, we're launching a series of one-page briefs to appear weekly until Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. Please take a moment to read each, and then pass them on to loved ones, within your Jewish community, on blogs, your Congress members, wherever there may be an interested party, willing to take up the cause for peace. After all, for all his commitment, President Obama faces formidable opposition -- witness his recent failed efforts to press the Israeli government to halt construction on an East Jerusalem housing project. President Obama needs to know that he has our backing to go the full nine yards.

Knowledge is only powerful if we use it -- please make use of these briefs to add to the Jewish community's support for President Obama's efforts!

Building Arab Support for Peace  doc  pdf

The Obama Administration has been actively seeking the involvement of Arab allies in its efforts to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track, in order to repair U.S.-Arab relations, gain leverage in peace negotiations, and achieve greater regional stability through the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations. To that end the Administration has been systematically reaching out to leaders of individual Arab countries and influential regional figures, as well as the 22-member Arab League, the pan-Arab organization which long met Israel with implacable hostility but has twice since 2002 offered a peace deal in exchange for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. So far, studies and news reports indicate that the Arab peoples are encouraged by these actions, and that President Obama is scoring high marks, but they're waiting on further involvement until Israel takes bigger steps. For its part, the Administration is continuing to actively engage both the Arab states and Israel with a positive vision of a peaceful Middle East, in which Israelis and Arabs move on from war and distrust, to normal human interactions in business, in tourism, and in friendship and peace.

?If Israel is going to make some very difficult political decisions around settlements and ultimately around borders that would allow for a Palestinian state, Arab states have to make some difficult political decisions themselves, recognizing Israel's existence, its legitimacy, that it has security needs like any other state?" --President Barack Obama, June 4, 2009

Building regional Arab support is essential to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
If Israel is to enjoy genuine peace, it must be secure from all sides. As President Obama has emphasized, Israel?s security ?extend(s) to concerns that they have in a whole host of neighbors where there?s perceived and often real hostility towards Israel?s security.? Including the Arab countries as part of a broader peace deal will allow true normalization among neighboring countries, as Israelis and Palestinians both take on integral roles in the region.

The Obama administration is urging Arab states to take important steps in exchange for Israeli concessions.
According to news sources, the administration is privately urging Arab states to implement the following, in exchange for an Israeli settlement freeze:

  • Arab countries in the Gulf would allow Israeli passenger and civilian cargo aircraft to fly over their territory.

  • Israel would be able to open interest sections in other states' embassies in several Arab capitals.

  • Arab countries would lift bans on the entry of tourists and other visitors whose passports carry Israeli visas or entry stamps.

  • Israeli-registered cell phones would be able to operate on Arab networks.

  • Arab leaders would visit Jerusalem and receive Israeli leaders in their own capitals.

  • Israel and Arab states would hold cultural exchanges.

Three Arab entities have already given Israel diplomatic recognition:
Egypt in 1979, the PLO in 1993, and Jordan in 1994.

Normalization of relations with Arab countries is fundamentally in Israel's interest.
Diplomatic recognition of Israel by the Arab world would signify the acceptance of Israel's legitimacy. Israelis could travel, enter economic partnerships, and expand their opportunities throughout the Middle East. Israel could take its place as a regional leader in technological innovation and progress of all kinds as true normalization deepens the ties among neighboring countries and makes it increasingly difficult to justify hostilities against one another.

The Presidents of both the United States and Israel have praised the Arab League Peace plan.
President Obama told Israel's President Shimon Peres that he is "very impressed" with the plan, which offers full Arab recognition of Israel in return for return to the 1967 borders.  Peres himself praised the Arab Plan, saying Israel could obtain peace with all Arab states for the price of an agreement with the Palestinians.

The Arab League supports President Obama's efforts.
The League has affirmed that Arab states are ready to "take the necessary steps to support the American effort," and will "deal positively with Obama's proposal to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict." It has called for a U.S. peace plan that would include a specific time frame and mechanisms for supervision of implementation and monitoring.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

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