“We must press Egypt to devote more resources and effort to stopping the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from the Sinai, where much of Hamas’ weaponry arrives from,” Democratic US presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama said in a letter addressed to US President George W. Bush.
In the letter Obama reiterated many of the positions he presented at AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington at the beginning of the month.
Clarifying his support for Israel Obama wrote, “A fundamental principle of America’s Middle East policy must be our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. I believe that is a bipartisan commitment and I will work to continue and advance that consensus. But I am deeply concerned that Israel’s security has been put at greater risk, both because of renewed threats from implacable enemies like Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas, and because of policy choices by the United States.”
Referring to the Gaza Strip, the democratic presidential hopeful wrote that putting pressure on Egypt will assist to “Ensure that Hamas does not use the truce to rearm and regroup. We must continue to isolate Hamas and ensure that others do so, until and unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by past agreements.”
Obama also expressed his concern regarding the ceasefire in Gaza, before it was violated by the Islamic Jihad. “We all hope it will bring calm to the people of southern Israel, improve life for the Palestinians in Gaza and lead to the release of (kidnapped IDF soldier) Gilad Shalit. The threat posed by Hamas' rule has not passed, and will not pass so long as Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction.”
Double the peace efforts
Obama determined that the essential step in ensuring Israel’s security in the long-run is the attainment of a peace agreement with its neighbors. He believes that in order to proceed with the initiative that began at the Annapolis peace summit, the US needs to double its efforts to achieve two states living side-by-side in peace and in security.
“In your remaining time in office, I hope you will devote the necessary resources to supporting Israel and Palestinian leaders who are committed to this effort to the maximum possible extent,” Obama wrote.
The democratic candidate wrote the president that he expects the other Arab states to increase their support for the Israel-Palestinian peace efforts. He believes that the assistance can come in two possible ways. Firstly, by means of wide-ranging financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, allowing it to improve the Palestinian people’s condition.
“Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing states of the Gulf, in particular, have the resources to make a profound investment in Israeli-Palestinian peace…and we must urge them to do just that,” Obama wrote.
The second possibility is by means of the Arab states’ assistance in enhancing the process. “The Arab states should support the Palestinians and prepare their own people for peace by making gestures of normalization toward Israel.
"The entire regional atmosphere would improve,” wrote Obama who hopes that “Arab governments would reach out to Israelis with a sincere indication of their readiness to accept Israel as a legitimate nation in the Middle East."
In contrast with the cold stance the Bush government took on the Turkish initiative for peace between Israel and Syria, Obama wrote Bush that this “is encouraging news, and it should spur the United States to support the parties’ efforts to achieve their goal of a negotiated settlement.”