Sunday, February 20, 2011

IU Student Association Student Body Congress pass resolution affirming US support for Israel

(IDSnews).On Feb. 8, our IU Student Association Student Body Congress passed a resolution affirming support for Israel, one of America’s closest friends and allies. While debate on the resolution was heated, the resolution was overwhelmingly approved with a 26-5 vote.

After that important vote, IU became the second university in the country to send a strong message to our nation’s leaders that the U.S.-Israel relationship is an important issue to students. Your student leaders recognize that strong American support for Israel means a lasting peace can be achieved in the Middle East.

The close relationship between the United States and Israel is exemplified by the overwhelming popular support of the American public that, according to a Gallup poll, stands at 68 percent. This helps us understand that much of the American public recognizes both the cultural and strategic relationship the state of Israel offers. I hope to cast a little light on why continued American support for this country is vital.

Continued American support for Israel is crucial in many ways for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated his support for a two-state solution which would allow for independent Jewish and Palestinian states.

While the two-state solution sounds good on paper, the negotiations need to take place in direct dialogue between Israel and Palestine and not through some unilateral institution like the United Nations.

The problem with having a unilateral institution like the U.N. broker the negotiations is that it would undermine the true aspirations of peace. This was evident in 1988 when the U.N. passed a resolution declaring support for a Palestinian state. Against U.S. and Israeli opposition, the resolution hurt any trust or progress that had been achieved in developing a lasting peace.

The United States’ support for the peace process through bilateral negotiations has not changed. In an Oct. 20 speech last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion ... (and) that is the only path that will lead to the fulfillment of the Palestinian national aspirations and the necessary outcome of two states for two peoples.”

According to a memo released by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Nov. 15, bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine are the only way to lasting peace. The memo states that “while there are significant gaps between the parties on fundamental issues, rejecting negotiations and threatening alternative approaches will guarantee failure.”

The memo also points out that unilateral negotiations fail to address the issues “at the heart of the dispute,” which includes addressing “borders, refugees, Jerusalem, security arrangements and water.”

According to the same memo, Prime Minister Netanyahu has already made serious proposals to restart negotiations. He has recently “implemented a 10-month moratorium on housing starts in the West Bank and taken dramatic action to improve the day-to-day lives of the Palestinians.”

Support from the United States can come in many ways, including consistent policy positions as well as foreign aid. President Obama indicated his support for a memorandum that will provide $30 billion in U.S. foreign aid for 10 years that will help Israel maintain its military edge in a volatile part of the world. Seventy-five percent of this aid is spent by Israel in the United States to support areas like the American defense industry.

Addressing the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a heated debate in any circle. In American politics, it is truly the one bipartisan issue most Democrats and Republicans can agree on. This is witnessed in the passing of the IUSA resolution last week as both the College Democrats and College Republicans signed on as sponsors.

Whatever the final peace solution, the United States of America must stand strong in its solidarity with Israel and support bilateral negotiations to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East.