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Collision with Obama over Palestinian state? AIPAC rank-and-file shrug it off

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How important is Palestinian statehood to the AIPAC faithful? How likely is a confrontation between Obama and the Israel lobby? Answers: Not very important. And, likely.
I talked to a dozen AIPAC members last night and this morning and got the following consensus: Palestinian statehood is an essential element of Middle East peace, ultimately. It's our goal. It's in our lobbying package– "a viable Palestinian state." But it has many, many preconditions. Security first. You can't just give a state to terrorists. You have to have a true partner; there is none now. We got rockets by giving up land before; we're not about to do it again without many guarantees.
That's a consensus. Some members were more hardline than that–a state is not a goal–and one or two were were more dovish, saying it was important. But even a dove said to me, Negotiations paved the way to Bergen-Belsen.
I said to some of these members: "Obama may well say, former terrorists formed part of the Iraq government; and Kosovo Muslims got a state without delay; Palestinian Arabs have been promised a state by the international community for 61 years. It's time for political self-determination for these people, and Arab states say it's the core issue."
The members said, That's preposterous, and started arguing with me. The Palestinians don't have any political self-determination among themselves!
And many of the members said that a confrontation between Obama and Netanyahu may well be in the cards. We don't know yet.
But the members I talked to said that AIPAC and Obama would come to terms. "It's like a marriage, do you argue with your wife?" one said. I said, "France and the U.S. got a separation during the Iraq process." "Yes they did, but that won't happen here. AIPAC leadership is very pragmatic. They will express their views strongly but politely. They will come down to Washington even more often…"
The lobby is united, wary, but strong.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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