No salvation in McCain

McCain & the Israeli/Palestinian Dispute

By Andy McCarthy, NRO

As I’ve previously noted, Sen. McCain adheres to the ill-conceived view, long regnant in diplomatic circles, that striking a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is a top priority of U.S. foreign policy. (By contrast, the candidate I support, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, argues that Palestinians should not be treated as a civilized negotiating partner until they abandon terrorism and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.) Essentially, McCain would continue the disastrous policy currently being pursued by the Bush administration, which (as John Hinderaker recently observed at PowerLine) has now relieved the Palestinians of the “roadmap” prerequisite that they end terrorist attacks against Israel before further negotiations can proceed — such that the President now talks incessantly about his ne plus ultra of Palestinian statehood even as Israeli civilians are targeted by rocket-fire.

Though we’ve not heard much about them lately, McCain aired some of his views in a 2006 interview with Haaretz, as he was preparing his 2008 presidential bid. As published at FPM, Jason Maoz of the Jewish Press wrote at the time:

    McCain told Haaretz that as president, he would “micromanage” U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians and would dispatch “the smartest guy I know” to the region, presumably to jump-start a new push for a comprehensive accord.Asked who that “smartest guy” might be, McCain responded: “Brent Scowcroft, or James Baker, though I know that you in Israel don’t like Baker.”

    McCain foresaw “concessions and sacrifices by both sides” and indicated that Israel would be expected to “Defend itself and keep evacuating.” Asked whether that meant “movement toward the June 4, 1967 armistice lines, with minor modifications,” McCain, reported Haaretz, “nodded in the affirmative.”

    McCain’s statements are jarring not only because they reflect the view, long championed by the State Department and both the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic party, that the U.S. can somehow “micromanage” a fair and equitable Mideast peace (code for unilateral Israeli concessions, since the Palestinians have nothing concrete to concede), but as well for the almost cavalier dismissal of concerns about an interlocutor on the order of a James Baker.

    (McCain’s mention of Scowcroft, whose Mideast views and chilly attitude toward Israel are indistinguishable from those usually attributed to Baker, is equally instructive and should serve as one more caveat for McCain supporters in the pro-Israel community.)

    McCain’s affinity for the hidebound conventional wisdom of our foreign policy solons is not news. As he told the Detroit News during the 2000 campaign, upon being asked about the first thing he’d do as president: “The first thing that I would do is call in John Kerry, Bob Kerrey, Joe Biden, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, Dick Lugar, Chuck Hagel, and several others and say, ‘We’ve got to get foreign policy, national security issues back on track.'”

UPDATE: Jason Maoz alerts us that he wrote a follow-up to the story I referred to above. It details how Senator McCain strongly felt that his position on Israel was not fairly represented in the Haaretz article. McCain in particular contended that he never suggested going back to the 1967 lines. He further asserted, “There can be no comprehensive peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians until the Palestinians recognize Israel, forswear forever the use of violence, recognize their previous agreements, and reform their internal institutions.”

This is welcome to hear, though I note that it is not the sentiment not comes through in the Senator’s recent Foreign Affairs essay, which, as I note above, makes an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement a priority. Further, it does not refer to settlement lines and suggests that the Palestinian terrorism problem can be addressed by isolating Hamas while we step up efforts to strike a settlement with other Palestinian elements (which, as I’ve pointed out, also promote terrorism and rabid anti-Semitism). The entirety of McCain’s argument in Foreign Affairs on Israel/Palestine is the following:

    Meanwhile, in view of the increased threats to Israel — from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and others — the next U.S. president must continue America’s long-standing support for Israel, including by providing needed military equipment and technology and ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge. The long-elusive quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians must remain a priority. But the goal must be genuine peace, and so Hamas must be isolated even as the United States intensifies its commitment to finding an enduring settlement.
January 15, 2008 | Comments »

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