Jerusalem and Kuwait

October 11, 1990

The tragedy on Jerusalem's Temple Mount is no reason to link Iraqi evacuation from Kuwait to Israeli evacuation of the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria. That is what Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein demanded, to cloud the issue of his total aggression against a friendly, fellow Arab, Islamic state that had been subsidizing him. The linkage is specious and fraudulent. It is a false distraction.

Kuwait is not a quid pro quo for the West Bank and Gaza. Kuwait was not a sympathizer of Israel but a supporter of the Palestinians. Iraq's dictator, posing as a friend of the Palestinians, long diverted Arabian oil income from their quality of life to the war machine he unleashed on Islamic Iran, Arab Kuwait and dissident Iraqis. Other than its concern at aggrandizement of the dictator's war machine, Israel has no national interest in protecting Kuwait. There is no trade-off.

The occupations differ. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait this year is naked aggression with no excuse. Israel's seizure of land in 1967 was in response to invasion from three Arab states that had meant to change borders by conquest. Egypt, Jordan and Syria were not going to give back any land they gained, and were served right to have lost some. Israel should seek accommodation with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who have made it clear they refuse to be governed by Jews.

Israel can quit that occupation only by trading land for peace. That does not mean peace with half the Arabs while the other half insist on remaining at war, using Palestine for base. It means peace with all. That requires a complex, phased process of negotiating autonomy with Palestinians, scheduling military withdrawals and exchanging recognition with all Arab sovereignties.

Israel's Likud government under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir is not disposed to do the right thing and Washington should bring all influence to bear on it -- in exchange for Arab willingness to make peace. This has nothing to do with Kuwait. Were progress available, it should not await Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.

Similarly, Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait cannot await the Arab unity that is necessary for peace with Israel and a Palestinian state. The fact is that Saddam Hussein has never done anything for the Palestinians but talk ferociously while diverting support from them. The slaughter by frightened Israeli police of Palestinian rioters who were stoning Jewish worshipers is reason enough to bring pressure to bear on Israel and on Palestinians to seek accommodation with each other. But it has no link to Iraq's aggression against Kuwait.

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