Netanyahu’s Choice

Ramallah – As the summit between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approaches, most of the discussion has focused on whether or not the newly elected Israeli leader will finally say that he backs a two-state solution. This is the wrong approach. Israelis should not determine the status of the Palestinian entity, nor should Palestinians have a say in what Israelis call their own state.

The only question that Obama should ask Netanyahu is, When will Israel quit the occupied Palestinian territories? Attempts at obfuscation – whether by talking about an “economic peace,” or insisting that Arabs recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel – should not be allowed to derail the goal of ending the inadmissible occupation.

During Obama’s first meeting with a Middle East leader, a simple and courageous Arab plan was outlined. Empowered by Arab leaders, Jordan’s King Abdullah II officially presented the peace plan devised by the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic States. Despite the Israeli wars on Lebanon and Gaza, Arabs offered  normal relations with Israel once it quits the lands that it occupied in 1967.

The plan also calls for a  “fair” and “agreed upon” resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem. The fact that Israelis and Palestinians need to agree on a solution of the refugee issue neutralizes unwarranted Israeli fears about the demographic threat posed by the Palestinians’ right of return. Last summer, when he was shown a poster with 57 flags representing the Arab and Islamic countries that will normalize relations with Israel, then candidate Obama told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Israelis would be “crazy” to reject that plan.