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Political Scientist Michael Desch Discusses Palestinian Statehood

Michael Desch AL web

Since 1967, the U.S. has provided nearly unwavering support for the policies in Israel. But according to a University of Notre Dame international relations expert, it’s time we reassess that position.

“One of the main problems with our unwavering support for the policies of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is that it rests on a questionable assumption: that the key obstacle to peace lies on the Palestinian side,” says Michael Desch, a political scientist specializing in international relations and national security.

Desch, chair of the Department of Political Science, believes that the Palestinians’ past unwillingness to recognize the Jewish state may have been the primary roadblock to peace before, but is no longer the case.

“Since the Arab League’s March, the 2002 Beirut Declaration offering recognition of Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state, and a moderate and effective government under President Mahmoud Abbas coming to power in the West Bank, Israel now has—Hamas notwithstanding—real partners for peace,” he says.

Should the U.N. Security Council recognize Palestine as a state, Israelis fear “delegitimization” of the Jewish state—a position Desch believes President Obama should leverage in order to improve America’s standing in the Middle East and bring an end to the ongoing conflict in the region.

“Obama should threaten to abstain from the U.N. vote if the Netanyahu government continues to drag its feet in fully embracing the two-state solution, which is Israel’s only hope for remaining Jewish and democratic,” Desch says.

“Not hindering the Palestinians at the U.N. this fall would be just the sort of bold move that, rather than setting back the peace process which is dead in the water as is, could shake things up in the region for the better, which is ultimately in everyone’s interests, especially our own.”

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine have stalled under current the hard-line Israeli government.

“But there is no doubt that the continuing Israeli occupation of lands most of the rest of the world regards as Palestine inflames anti-Israel and anti-U.S. sentiments and hinders our war against terrorism,” Desch says.

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