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Baker Report Dangerously Naive

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The report issued by the Iraq Study Group, headed by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, urges President Bush to adopt policies that amount to ignoring 13 years of Palestinian terrorism, incitement to hatred and murder of Israelis by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and failed concessionary Israeli policies, while at the same time calling for even more Israeli concessions to the Hamas/ PA regime.

The report’s recommendations would also cripple U.S. efforts to fight the war on Islamist terrorist groups, encourage terrorists world-wide, end discussions of economic sanctions and military action against Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons, and legitimize the terrorist-sponsoring regimes of Iran and Syria.

The report claims that America “will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict” – but the Middle East’s problems of lack of freedom and democracy, the promotion of terrorism and the sectarian war and terrorism in Iraq have nothing to do with Israel.

Rather, the bloodshed in Iraq is abetted by regimes (Iran, Syria) and groups (Al Qaeda) that are implacably opposed to the U.S., democracy and the non-Muslim world. Neither their hostility to the U.S. nor the terrorist campaign in Iraq would be deterred by an Arab-Israeli peace agreement or even by the non-existence of the state of Israel.

Baker/Hamilton seeks “A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist,” but this absurdly ignores the fact that Hamas is dedicated in its charter to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews and that Syria itself does not recognize Israel or even acknowledge its ex-istence on its official maps.

The report also claims: “The only basis on which peace can be achieved is that set forth in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and in the principle of ‘land for peace.’ ” But “land for peace” has been tried and has failed – under the Oslo peace process (1993- 2000) and afterward, Israel ceded to the PA half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, only to receive in return more terrorism and the election of Hamas.

And the report calls for a two-state solution – but the issue is not Palestinian statehood or borders, it’s the existence of Israel, which the Palestinian Arabs do not accept. Statehood has been offered several times to Palestinian Arabs, most recently in 2000 by Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton, who proposed giving them 97 percent of Judea and Samaria, all of Gaza, statehood and more – but the PA turned it down.

Additionally, not only did the PA make no counter- offer, but it launched the terrorist war in September 2000 that has killed almost 2,000 Israelis and wounded and maimed 15,000 more. Since 2000, successive polls have shown consistently high Palestinian support for the use of terrorism against Israeli civilians, even if a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem were to be created. For Palestinian Arabs, destroying Israel trumps statehood.

Especially with the election of Hamas this year, a Palestinian state set up now would simply be another terrorist state.

The Baker/Hamilton Report goes further than any U.S. government has gone by calling for negotiations “which would address … the right of return” (the legally baseless Palestinian demand whereby Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants would inundate Israel and end Israel as a Jewish state) and for supporting “moderates” like PA president Mahmoud Abbas – despite the fact that the PA under Abbas has not fulfilled its commitments under signed agreements with Israel and also the 2003 road map peace plan to fight, arrest, extradite and jail terrorists, confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism.

Abbas recently stated that neither Hamas nor Fatah is required to extend official recognition to Is-rael and he reaffirmed his commitment to “the legacy” of Arafat.

The report contends that peace efforts should include “Support for a Palestinian national unity government” of Fatah and Hamas. In fact, however, both groups in their respective charters call for Israel’s destruction (Fatah: Article 12; Hamas, Article 15) and the use of terrorism (Fatah: Article 19; Hamas: Article 7).

About the Author: Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

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