Cantor: U.S. Must Stand With Israel, Not Dictate Concessions

Posted May 25, 2011 at 5:56pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday, reaffirming the critical importance that our two nations work together and with a unity of purpose to face down our common threats and challenges. I agree. Promoting a strong and secure Israel is an essential way for America to check the spread of radical Islam and ensure stability in the Middle East.

That is precisely why the recent flare-up in U.S.-Israel relations over borders is so unsettling. It puts Israel’s security in danger and places the onus for peace heavily on the Israelis. The notion that the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the failure to return to indefensible pre-1967 border lines is patently false. In fact, Israel’s enemies launched two wars to destroy the Jewish state before the “pre-1967” borders were breached.

As Netanyahu told Congress, the conflict has never been about the absence of a Palestinian state. It’s about the existence of a Jewish state.

America has a special relationship with Israel, and we simply cannot play games with Israel’s security. If the U.S. wants to take a position of leadership and help bring about a secure Mideast peace, we must address the blanket refusal among Palestinians and the broader Arab world to accept Israel’s right to exist in peace as a Jewish state. History proves that Israeli concessions to the Palestinians accomplish nothing so long as Israel faces an enemy such as Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups committed to Israel’s destruction. Now that the Palestinian Authority — itself with a checkered history of swearing off terrorism and recognizing Israel — has agreed to reconcile with Hamas, prospects for peace have never looked so grim.

If the Palestinians want a state of their own, they must prove they are worthy of a state by accepting Israel and by ending anti-Semitic incitement and terrorism. As should be obvious, Hamas cannot play a role in the Palestinian government.

To the administration, I say that frustration with the intractable stalemate in the Middle East is understandable. But that is no reason to lean on Israel, telling our ally what it needs to do to make peace with an enemy determined to destroy it — and even going so far as to specify land swaps and withdrawal of troops. What has Israel gained in exchange for these potentially dangerous concessions? Mere words and empty hopes — a road to terrorism that Israel has been down before.

A bipartisan majority of Congress understands that now is the time to stand with our ally Israel and call on the Palestinians to desert Hamas — and come to the negotiating table without preconditions.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is the House Majority Leader.