Obama Warns Israel in Haaretz Op-Ed: 'Restraint, Not Vengeance'
President Barack Obama has weighed in on the conflict escalating in Israel as the Israeli government begins a full-scale military effort against Hamas after the kidnapping of three Israeli teen boys, one a U.S. citizen. Writing for Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Obama uses the opportunity to promote a two-state solution.
"At this dangerous moment, all parties must protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not vengeance and retribution," writes the President in his column. The article laments that the three Israeli teen boys were "tragically kidnapped and murdered," but it calls for Israel to use the Palestinian violence upon their children as a catalyst to discuss a two-state solution, rather than responding to the threat with adequate self-defense.
President Obama is unequivocal in declaring that "the only solution is a democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state." He does not clarify why, exactly, he chooses a time in which the killing of Israeli children by members of Hamas, a terrorist organization incorporated into the Palestinian government, is paramount in the minds of Israeli people, but he does describe the killing of those teens as a mutual failure of both parties' efforts, not just the Palestinian side. "So while we were disappointed that the tough decisions weren’t made by both parties to keep moving the peace process forward, the United States will never give up on the hope of a lasting peace, which is the only path to true security for Israel," he writes.
While United States law precludes the Obama administration from accepting Hamas as a viable governing entity, Obama has nonetheless officially accepted its presence in Palestine's "unity" government. Palestine's inclusion of Hamas in the unity government at all makes it complicit in any crimes members of that terrorist organization commit, as their objective is clear in the Hamas charter: "The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"
Nonetheless, in his column, President Obama advises Israelis to work with the Palestinian government, into which Hamas is now incorporated. In addition to assuring Israelis that this is the best path to peace, the President notes that "reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians would also help turn the tide of international sentiment and sideline violent extremists, further bolstering Israel’s security." He notes that now is the time because "in President Abbas, Israel has a counterpart committed to a two-state solution and security cooperation with Israel."
President Obama spends much of the column praising his own administration for successes widely attributed to other governments, most notably the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, for which Russian President Vladimir Putin was greatly regaled. "Last month, under American leadership, the international community successfully removed the last of Bashar al-Assad’s declared chemical weapons from Syria," writes Obama. He also notes that the United States will continue to invest in the defense of Israel and concludes that America remains "Israel’s first friend, Israel’s oldest friend, and Israel’s strongest friend."
The essay follows the announcement of Operation Protective Edge, a full-scale military operation in Gaza, which many believe is intended to eradicate Hamas from the region conclusively. The success of such a new operation remains to be seen, but in that response, it is clear that Israel is shying way from accepting half the blame for the murder of its youth--and in the case of Naftali Frankel, America's youth, as well--and unlikely to follow President Obama's advice of joining a negotiating table at which terrorist groups are welcome.