U.S. is sending the wrong signals on the Middle East

So at last the Palestinians get a little bit of official recognition at the United Nations – “Observer State” status, and the Israelis immediately retaliate by announcing plans to build 3,000 new Jewish-only homes in the West Bank on land that the United Nations has determined was illegally seized.

What is this – middle school? You punish your “enemies” for any real or imagined advance in status by purposely doing the very thing you know makes them angriest?

And let’s remember: Abbas and the West Bank Palestinians are the “good” Palestinians. They are not Hamas. They have been obeying the Israeli and U.S. demands, maintaining order, cooperating with the occupation, preventing terrorist attacks on Israel. And what have they gotten for their efforts so far: nothing. Now, less than nothing.

What this shows the Arabs in the Middle East and the rest of the world is that the Israelis have no interest in a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Israeli government clearly figures it can keep the present status going on forever, with the army and unwavering U.S. support.

Sadly, it also shows the Palestinians that they have nothing to gain by cooperation, especially in contrast with the recent fighting in Gaza. This is a terrible message for the United States, which is complicit with Israel in this stalemate, to be sending the Middle East and the world.

We need to send a very different message. That is, both sides have to engage, once and for all, in a real and meaningful peace process that respects the rights of both peoples. Before it is too late.

Eric A. Gallion