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Right Turn
Posted at 04:20 PM ET, 06/15/2011

Sen. Mark Kirk — maybe he should be running Middle East policy?

Politics and foreign policy abhor a vacuum. There certainly is a blank spot in this administration where a coherent, effect policy toward the Israel should be. So, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), an intelligence officer in naval reserve, has come out with a comprehensive look at “The Future of Israel’s Security and the U.S.-Israel Relationship.”

He makes some concrete suggestions: “With U.S. and coalition assets stretched due to Operations New Dawn, Enduring Freedom and Odyssey Dawn, the United States should welcome Israel’s participation in the U.S.-led Combined Task Force 151 anti-piracy coalition effort.” He also recommends, “The United States and Israel should explore areas of potential cooperation on both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities to strengthen the security of both countries and achieve common objectives.” He likewise argues, “The resounding success of the Iron Dome missile defense system has already changed Israel’s security dynamic vis-à-vis Hamas in Gaza and, once fully operational across the country, will help Israel regain its strategic offensive flexibility. As the system’s primary foreign sponsor, the United States should explore the potential benefits of securing the Iron Dome system to defend U.S. and NATO forces.”

But the meat of this is his approach to the Palestinian issue. He writes that the United States should:

1) reaffirm the commitments made by President Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, including U.S. policy regarding security, borders, refugees and the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process;
2) end taxpayer assistance to the Palestinian Authority so long as a Hamas-approved government exists;
3) prohibit future assistance to the Palestinian Authority or any follow-on government should Palestinian leaders unilaterally declare statehood in September outside of a negotiated peace settlement with Israel;
4) prepare for the transition of UNRWA services in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority to promote true Palestinian statehood building; and
5) condition future assistance to the Palestinian Authority on an end to government-sponsored incitement against Israel and Jews, and education sector reforms that promote reconciliation with Israel.

Frankly, there are not more than a handful of lawmakers who wouldn’t sign on to that list. In fact, it was the contours of the successful Bush administration policy (which cut off funds that would have gone to Hamas after the 2006 election).

On Iran, Kirk calls for additional support for Israel’s “multi-layered defense” and a push on human rights and democracy promotion in Iran. He also recommends a series of steps in preparation for a second flotilla:

1) immediately designate the IHH as a terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224, which targets “terrorists, terrorist organizations, and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists, terrorist organizations, or acts of terrorism”;
2) make available all necessary special operations and naval support to the Israeli Navy to effectively disable flotilla vessels before they can pose a threat to Israeli coastal security or put Israeli lives at risk; and
3) make it clear to Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan that Turkey will be held accountable for any actions that support or enable the IHH to launch its flotilla.

There is nothing radical in any of this. It reflects the sort of bipartisan, pro-Israel agenda that nearly every administration has followed. The real question is why the Obama administration is so different.

By  |  04:20 PM ET, 06/15/2011

Categories:  Israel, Senate Republicans

 
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