I know many of my American readers have reservations about him – especially on domestic issues – but Republican Presidential candidate John McCain is sounding the right notes when it comes to Israel.
He seems to understand that our war against the terrorists is not just our war:
“If Hamas/Hizbullah succeeds here, they are going to succeed everywhere, not only in the Middle East, but everywhere. Israel isn’t the only enemy.. They are dedicated to the extinction of everything that the US, Israel and the West believe and stand for. So America does have an interest in what happens here, far above and beyond our alliance with the State of Israel.”
That it does not make sense for Israel to talk with Hamas:
“Someone is going to have to answer me the question of how you are going to negotiate with an organization that is dedicated to your extinction.”
That the US should not dictate policy to Israel:
“I really think that we should understand that the US and Israel are partners. Israel is not a client of the United States. If you are partners, then you don’t dictate what you think the terms of the survival of a nation should be.”
That Israel has the right to respond vigorously to the rocket fire emanating from Gaza:
“I can’t give you a good answer as to how you respond to these rocket attacks..I can tell you that I believe that if rocket attacks came across the border of the United States of America, that the American people would probably demand pretty vigorous actions in response. I think I know my constituency in the state of Arizona, and they would be pretty exercised if rockets came across our southern border.”
And that Iran is a huge threat to the world:
“I think Iran is a threat to the region,” McCain said, adding that not only were the Iranians “obviously pursuing nuclear weapons,” they were also arming and training extremists to send into Iraq, supporting Hizbullah and influencing Syria.
“At the end of the day, we can still not afford to have Iran with nuclear weapons,” he said. “We know they have ambitions that are not just aimed at the State of Israel.”
These ambitions included “destabilization of the entire region upon which the United States’ national security interests rest,” he said.
He also says he supports Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:
Before his arrival in Israel on Tuesday, McCain said he supports Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. He told reporters in Jordan: “I support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Of course, I realize there is a difference between saying the right things and doing the right things. After all, how many times have we heard a US President say they promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, only to postpone the move?
In McCain’s case, there are some worrying signs, including the mention of James Baker as a possible presidential envoy to the region, and the claim by Israeli journalist Amir Oren that McCain lied about having had said Israel should return to the 1967 armistice lines. And let’s face it, in any event, he would not shun the PA, since any US Government could not be more hardline than the Israeli government. So we would likely end up in a similar situation to that we find ourselves in today – “negotiating” with a bunch of terrorists still dedicated to our destruction.
Update: Yep, not much would change under McCain:
Earlier Wednesday, McCain told Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that he believed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was committed to the peace process and opposed the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip.
At a press conference with Livni, McCain said he had telephoned Abbas, who is based in the West Bank city of Ramallah just a few kilometres away, because he was unable to meet the Palestinian president in person.
McCain said the Western-backed leader wants to move forward in peace talks.
“I again believe that President Abbas wants to get this [peace] process started,” McCain said in Jerusalem.
Update: And again:
The grim situation in the rocket-battered town of Sderot has left a heavy impression on Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who visited there with Defense Minister Ehud Barak Wednesday afternoon.
McCain noted that there have been 900 rocket attacks on Sderot in the last three months, and that a rocket lands there every two hours in average. This puts intolerable pressure on the children and the population in general, he said, adding that this was “no way to spend the Purim holiday.
Speaking at a press conference after touring the town with Barak, McCain stressed the importance of the peace process in bringing an end to the conflict.
The cycle of action and reaction must stop, and therefore the peace process should not be abandoned, he said.
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