I have spent the past week covering Middle East policy issues during the presidential primaries in Pennsylvania, in my capacity as the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin.
I find that people hesitate about which would be the appropriate questions to ask candidates for president concerning their proposed Middle East polices.
The following twenty Middle East policy questions are the questions that American voters may wish to pose to Senators Obama, Clinton and McCain… along with all candidates for the US Congress
1. Numerous declassified security reports confirm that Saudi Arabia continues to fund groups defined by the US government as terrorist organizations, while Saudi Arabia maintains an active state of war against the state of Israel since 1948. How would you, as President relate to the security threat posed by Saudi Arabia?
2, The current administration offers major arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite its pro-terror posture. Would you, as President, continue this policy of arming the Saudis?
3. Successive US presidents have supported the idea that Palestinian refugees should be reside in the squalor of UNRWA refugee camps. This policy operates under the premise and promise of the “right of return”, instead of being rehabilitated under the principles of UNHCR which work to rehabilitate refugees in decent living permanent living conditions, instead of perpetuation the unreal notion of the right of return to villages and homes that no longer exist. Would you, as President, call for an application of UNHCR principles to alleviate the plight of Palestinian refugees?
4. The Bush Administration has announced a program to arm the Fatah, despite current terror activities of the Fatah and despite the fact that Fatah remains on the list of organizations defined by American law as illegal terrorist organizations. Would you, as President, continue to arm the Fatah?
5 The PA has used US AID funds to foster an Islamic Sharia constitution which doe not provide juridical status for any religion besides Islam. Does you, as President, approve of this PA policy? Would you, as President, ask for a change in such a constitution as a condition of future aid to the PA?
6. The Bush Administration has restrained Israel from counterattacking in Gaza to put an end to the daily missile attacks from Gaza. Would you, as President, restrain the hand of Israel?
7. As a matter of policy, terrorists who fire missiles at Israel from Gaza use Gaza civilians as human shields. Would you, as President, recognize the fact that casualties in Gaza remain a direct result of this human shield policy?
8. The Palestinian Authority harbors terrorists suspected of murder and refuses to hand them over for trial. The Clinton and Bush Administrations turned a blind eye to such a policy. Would you, as President, allow such a policy to continue?
9. Palestinian Authority operates with no system of civil liberties or human rights. Would you, as President, condition for any future US assistance in a human rights and civil liberties reform in the PA?
10. Christians are persecuted in the PA and are often not allowed to practice their religion in the open in the PA. The American consulate in Jerusalem has refused to render assistance to Christians who are persecuted by the PA. Would you, as President, continue to ignore the plight of Christians who are persecuted in the PA or will you, as President, champion the cause of Christians to practice their religion freely in the PA?
11, Syria continues to host and support a plethora of terror groups. What would the policy to Syria, as President, be to Syria in this regard?
12. Syria continues to orchestrate the export of lethal narcotics to the world. Would you, as President, support an effort to destroy the Syrian source of lethal narcotics in the Bekka Valley?
14. Since the Golan Heights was used by Syria between 1949 and 1967 to attack Israeli communities in the Galilee, would you, as President, support an effort to force Israel to withdraw from the Golan?
15. The Bush Administration asks that Israel abide by the road map for peace. Which road map would you, as President, endorse- the road map of April 30th 2003 or the road map of May 25th 2003? [The second road map contains the reservations of Israel, which include detailed Israeli directives to disband terror groups as a precondition to continued negotiations]
16. The Bush Administration characterizes the Fatah terror organization as a “moderate” factor. Would you, as President, share in that characterization?
17. The Clinton and Bush Administrations consistently ignored the fact that the PLO never ratified the Oslo accord “declaration of principles” which required the PLO and Fatah to recognize Israel, denounce terror and cancel the PLO/Fatah charter which calls for Israel’s obliteration. It will be recalled that the PLO signed the Oslo accords on the White House lawn on September 13th, 1993 and would not ratify these accords when the PLO executive convened on October 6th, 1993 in Tunis and would not cancel the PLO charter when the PNC convened on April 24th. 1996. Would you, as President, continue the Clinton/Bush policy of ignoring the fact that the PLO never ratified the Oslo accord and never cancelled the PLO charter?
18. The Clinton and Bush administration also consistently ignored the message communicated by the newly constituted Palestinian Authority in the Arabic language which, since its inception in 1994, communicates a clear language of continued war on Israel. Would you, as President, insist on a change in that policy and issue a directive that any aid to the PA require a cessation of calls to terrorism by the official media outlets of the PA?
19. The Clinton and Bush administrations have consistently ignored the fact that the new Palestinian Authority curriculum introduced by the PA inculcates the next generation to continue the war to liberate all of Palestine. Would you, as President, demand a cancellation of that curriculum?
20. The Gaza withdrawal demonstrates that Palestinians will use areas under their control to launch missile attacks against Israel. Would you, as President, insist on future Israeli withdrawals?