Mr. Olmert, there’s a bit of an argument in the United States – particularly among supporters of Israel – as to whether the United States is pushing the “peace process” and making unreasonable demands of Israel, or whether your government is pulling the administration toward an elusive “peace” with unstable partners.

President Bush laid out clear and responsible requirements for American support of Palestinian statehood. (Houses for Jews in the unallocated part of the British Mandate territory, on the other hand, REALLY irk him.) But the United States pushed for early Palestinian legislative elections, giving voters a choice between corrupt, secular terrorists and somewhat-less-overtly-corrupt religious terrorists. They chose the latter. After calling the vote “free and fair,” the United States boycotted the winner, making Hamas the “victim” of American perfidy. The Administration now has all its eggs in the Abu Mazen basket. President Bush waived the Congressional prohibition on direct money transfers to the Palestinian Authority, saying Abu Mazen is “confronting extremists and pursuing peace talks with Israel.” This would be the Abu Mazen who has been ginning up violent protests in Jerusalem against Israel and in support of Hamas.

One can fairly say that the United States has pursued policies that have had the effect of undermining Israel’s security. Mr. Prime Minister, did we do those things over your objection, with your acquiescence or with your encouragement? It is important to us, as Americans, to know which it is.

President Bush is not the Prime Minister of Israel. He is not responsible for protecting your people and, at some point, you have to tell him and his emissary Secretary Rice that Israelis voted for you, not for them. Your obligation is first to Israeli citizens and only then to the Palestinian children Hamas has put on the rooftops of Gaza as human shields. Shirel Friedman, Oshri Oz, Roni Yehiye and the toddlers Yuval Abebeh and Dorit Benisian had first claim on Israeli protection. Yossi Haimov, Osher Twito and Gilad Shalit still do.


Unless you believe limited incursions into Gaza are sufficient and you have no plan beyond them; unless you believe the “peace process” and the establishment of a Palestinian state is paramount, even if it is born in anarchy; unless your goal is to be out of places you don’t want to be in regardless of consequences beyond your tenure; unless you think Abu Mazen just needs more money and you believe more weapons for Dahlan’s thugs will produce security for Israel. If this is what you believe and what you are telling the President and Secretary Rice, OK. It’s your country.

America – and Israel’s American friends – can’t be a stronger force for Israeli security than Israel is. If you and the President are on the same page – Palestinian independence by the end of the year come hell or high water – you can be quite sure the Administration will push you hard in the direction you want to go. If you have a different view of your responsibility and the future of your country, this would be a really good time to let the United States know.