Syria is devastated by civil war. Egypt is immersed in violent turmoil by Islamist insurgents. Iran continues to work on advanced centrifuges at an alarming pace. And al-Qaida and affiliated groups continue to threaten traditional Arab regimes and Western interests throughout the area.
With the region aflame, with so many crises demanding attention, the US has made a baffling decision to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and make it the crux of its Middle East policy.
US Secretary of State Kerry has made nearly a dozen visits to the region in the past year in an unceasing effort to broker an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. He is expected to announce a framework for a peace deal in the coming weeks.
While everyone wishes for peace, many of us in Congress are troubled that the Obama administration is unduly pressuring Israel into making far-reaching concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians. These are concessions which will be detrimental to its long-term security, and which are likely to backfire.
It is our firm belief that bilateral negotiations between the two sides are the only viable path to a true peace accord. Past history has repeatedly shown that outside pressure – however well intended – is a recipe for failure.
Peace will be made from the ground up – not in the meeting rooms of five-star hotels.
Moreover, our concern over the administration’s heavy-handed tactics is only heightened by the fact that this pressure is coming under the shadow of a nuclear-armed Iran. Indeed, Iran is continuing to spin its centrifuges – and work on more advanced ones – and top Iranian officials have said they will never dismantle them.