Many observers hold that the death of former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and the subsequent election of Mahmoud Abbas to lead the Palestinian Authority have created a window of opportunity for the U.S. government to set a course for a lasting peace

Many observers hold that the death of former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and the subsequent election of Mahmoud Abbas to lead the Palestinian Authority have created a window of opportunity for the U.S. government to set a course for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. For the Palestinians, this should mean a democratic Palestinian state under the rule of law and the right to pursue health, prosperity, and freedom. For Israel, this should mean national security and peace. For the White House, there are both practical and moral imperatives to encourage the Israeli and Palestinian people to live together. Regional Middle East peace and security will translate into an ability in Washington to devote attention and resources to other areas of increasing strategic concern, such as the growing dangers from a nuclear-armed North Korea and the unabated poverty and disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Strategically, a protracted conflict will continue to destabilize the Middle East and complicate our relations with Europe. It is to Washington's disadvantage to have the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continue for another generation.

Israelis will face two existential threats if the war continues: first, there is a danger of growing isolation from the rest of the world as Israel's dominant military capabilities make it look like a bully and oppressor. Indeed, Israel has been losing sympathy around the world since 1982 when Ariel Sharon, then minister of defense, took the Israeli army into Beirut. For the last twenty years, the rhetoric against Israel in Europe and on the American left has grown stronger. Another generation of military reprisals, no matter how legitimate in terms of responding to terrorist killings of innocent people, may leave Israel dangerously isolated. This trend is complicated both by the increasing Muslim population in Western Europe and the European sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people, which is increasingly leading to an acceptance of the view that terrorism is a legitimate response to the dominance of the Israeli military. European officials, trying to placate their new residents, find it easy to posit an anti-Israel stance for domestic consumption, thus unintentionally reinforcing growing anti-Semitic views inside their countries.

Second, there is the real danger that those who are determined to destroy Israel will acquire weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons are already in the hands of North Korea and Pakistan—two countries hostile to Israel's existence. The potential for these weapons to find their way into neighboring nations is troubling, in particular because Syria, which has repeatedly failed to apprehend known terrorists from within its borders, possesses a large number of chemical warheads.[1] Compounding the threat is Iran, believed by many countries to be secretly developing nuclear weapons.[2] Another generation of continuing hatred and violence could culminate in a devastating attack with horrifying casualties. Israel simply does not have the strategic depth or the ability to disperse its population sufficiently to survive a first strike of significant magnitude.

Israel's desire for safety provides a powerful incentive to seek a constructive resolution to the historic conflict. However, for the vast majority of Palestinians, there is an equally powerful imperative for dramatically improving their quality of life.

The Palestinians entered their war with Israel as a relatively wealthy, educated, and cosmopolitan people. They were in some ways among the most international and most advanced people in the Arab world. The long conflict has destroyed their hopes for a better future, left them without a viable economy, and for too long, left them without responsible leadership.

The Arab emphasis on a rigidly defined "right of return" for Palestinians—something no Arab government would grant the equally large number of Jews who migrated from Arab countries to Israel—has been an excuse to keep Palestinian refugees in United Nations camps without property, prosperity, or dignity.

Because the Palestinian Authority's underlying system of intimidation, terrorist support, and kleptocracy has been an impediment to the institutional reforms necessary to enforce the rule of law within the Palestinian-controlled territories, it is incumbent upon Abbas to demonstrate that he is serious about securing a lasting peace and improving the lives of the Palestinian people by controlling both armed terrorists and the local criminals who have for too long preyed on their own compatriots.

As a first step, Abbas must advance substantive government reform by replacing old dominant factions within the Palestinian Authority with an honest, responsible, transparent, and accountable system intolerant of terrorism and willing to live in peace with Israel. Abbas, like his predecessor, has not controlled the terrorist groups that pursue agendas irreconcilable with peace. That, however, does not permit Abbas to cease trying, nor should it let some Europeans continue to support blindly the dictatorial wing of Palestinian society. The ability of a Palestinian minority to deny the opportunity for the Palestinian people to live in peace, prosperity, and freedom should not be tolerated. Nor should Palestinian officials sympathetic to the radical minority be allowed to stay in power. Abbas should dismiss those who have sacrificed and would continue to sacrifice their people's future for their own enrichment.

Why the Oslo Agreement Failed

Any future peace proposal must understand the lessons of the past. The Oslo agreement was a tragic detour from reality. The accords assumed that Arafat could be trusted to keep his word and that engaging Arafat would bring the Palestine Liberation Organization into the civilized world and away from terrorism.

Israeli negotiators began engaging Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as a result of the 1987-91 Palestinian intifada. But, the Arab League, European Union, and, eventually the U.S. State Department, instead pushed for the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership, long exiled and resident in Tunisia, to be recognized as the voice of the Palestinian people. That decision effectively purged local Palestinians—who had a self-interest in a durable peace—from the process. Gangs and vigilantes loyal to Arafat often intimidated and even murdered those Palestinians who sought to raise an independent voice. Ignoring warnings about the nature of their Palestinian negotiating counterpart, the Israeli government supported the creation of a 15,000-man Palestinian police force, composed largely of terrorist cadres and armed with modern weapons. Israel accepted this in the belief that these Palestinian police would hunt down and stop the terrorists.

In 1993, these hopes might have been reasonable. As a member of Congress, I sat in on a White House meeting with Arafat during the heady days of the post-Oslo Rabin-Arafat diplomacy. Arafat said all the right words. Meeting just two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was reason to believe he was tired of conflict and wanted to end terrorism. There were hopes that he would actually promote better relations with Israel and would seek to become the founder of the new Palestinian state, even if was a smaller state than he desired.

We were warned by some voices even in 1993 that Arafat was saying more violent things in Arabic than in English. We were warned that Arafat was promising his more militant supporters that these agreements and the handshake on the White House lawn were simply tactics designed to weaken Israel, deceive the Americans, and set the stage for the elimination of Israel. As time went on, it became obvious that these warnings were accurate and that Arafat's regime was doing everything it could to set the stage for the destruction of Israel.

Tragically, the very nature of the post-Oslo aid program made it profitable for Arafat's oligarchs to sustain a program that destroyed the economy for the rest of the Palestinians. Arafat and his associates had become multimillionaires pre-Oslo by skimming money from aid programs meant to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people. Oslo awarded them an irresistible prize—payroll tax revenues collected by the Israeli government from the wages of Palestinians working in Israel. The Oslo agreement required these to be deposited monthly in bank accounts controlled by Arafat while the average Palestinian had no control, no accounting, and no choice.

Even with all the money going to enrich the Palestine Liberation Organization kleptocracy, Arafat and his faction refused to keep their word. They refused to lock up and punish terrorists and those who promoted terrorism. Intelligence officials now know they were spending more to subsidize terror than they were to pay the Palestinian security forces.

The results of the Palestine Liberation Organization perfidy are clear in human terms. In the five years after Oslo, more Israelis were killed (279 men, women, and children in 92 attacks) than in the fifteen years prior to Oslo.[3] From the Israelis' perspective, they were more at risk because of Oslo, not more secure.

Despite documentation that Arafat reached billionaire status as a result of Oslo, the reaction of the European and U.S. governments was to ignore his dishonesty, his support of terrorism, and the violation of nearly every agreement he had signed. In typical fashion, the world's prescription was more diplomacy. Repeatedly, the refrain was that if only Israel would make more concessions, and if only the right settlement of "larger issues" could be achieved, then Arafat would keep his word and terrorism would end.

The Failure of Diplomacy

After watching this charade for more than a decade, including meetings with Arafat in Ramallah and dinners I hosted with Palestinian and Jewish leaders to discuss joint ventures, my conclusion was that we were taken for a dishonest ride by Arafat and his aides. Focusing only on diplomacy as the path to success is wrong.

Diplomacy is important and has a vital role to play, but its function must be different than the Oslo process and the roadmap suggest. The focus on Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy cannot work when one side has a leadership that does not deliver on its word. The State Department may wish to give Abbas the benefit of the doubt. As with Arafat, Abbas says the right things in English to the Western press, but his commitment is not yet tested. So far, there is little evidence that the recognized faction has any more interest in dealing with its terrorist factions than it did under Arafat's leadership. It has shown some will, however, to cease making its priority the enrichment of the Palestinian oligarchy. Hopefully, the new Palestinian leadership will show at least some desire to crackdown on terrorist groups.

At this moment, however, the Palestinian Authority continues to use threats of terrorism as a negotiating tool. As recently as February 2005, Palestinian Authority officials warned that without the release of thousands of prisoners, an upcoming Palestinian-Israeli summit would not succeed. "If Israeli intransigence on this issue continues, the summit will fail," said Minister of Communications Azzam al-Ahmed. "If the prisoners aren't released, we will return to the cycle of violence."[4]

Hamas, too, maintained its terrorist rhetoric regardless of diplomacy between U.S. officials and the Palestinian Authority. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the late Hamas spokesman, summed up the group's position, saying, "I am telling Sharon and all the Israeli murderers, you don't have any security unless you leave the country. There will be no single Jew in Palestine. We will fight them with all the power that we have." [5] As Ed Koch has pointed out, Rantisi's vision of a future without Jews is no different from Adolf Hitler's intent on making Europe Judenrein.[6] It is impossible to engage diplomatically with those who espouse irreconcilable positions.

Israel has spent the last fifty-seven years trying to protect itself within a system in which every Israeli action is described as a provocation and every Israeli retaliation is described as disproportionate and inappropriate.

Americans need to view the Israeli experience from the standpoint of their own national tradition. There are approximately 47 times as many Americans as Israelis. That means that a bomb that kills 5 Israelis is the equivalent of one that murders 235 Americans. Multiplying by 47 the casualties resulting from a terrorist bombing in Israel gives some idea of how painful the war has been for the Israeli people. (See chart below.)

American and Israeli Deaths
Due to Terrorism, 2000-03

  Americans Israelis Proportionate
Israeli Losses (x47)
2000 23 44 2,068
2001 2,689 202 9,494
2002 27 390 18,330
2003 35 174 8,178
Totals 2,774 810 38,070

Israeli deaths from 2000 through 2003 are proportionate to population the equivalent of more than a dozen 9-11 attacks on the United States. If anything, Israel's response has been more restrained than our own. After 9-11, for example, we sent our military to Afghanistan to hunt down members of Al-Qaeda and destroy the Taliban government that provided them safe-haven. Israel has taken no similar action to destroy the safe-havens, material support, and sponsorship provided by Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Rather than restrain or apologize for Israeli defense, the U.S. government should be unapologetic in its support of any Israeli military, intelligence, and police effort which they find necessary to protect their people, whether that be military action, or the more peaceful approach of building a security fence, the same strategy employed by India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco, and even the United Nations in Cyprus.[7]

The burden of the resulting violence should be upon those who commit terrorism. When a neighborhood shelters terrorists, it should not be surprised at a violent response. When a rocket or mortar is fired from a neighborhood, people should expect retaliatory fire. When someone advocates killing Israelis, they should expect to be killed by those they plan to kill.

The burden for preventing terrorism should rest on the Palestinian Authority. Western governments should not bestow the privileges of governance without its responsibilities. The Palestinian Authority should be held accountable for all violence coming from its territories, and Israelis should be compensated by the Palestinian Authority for all acts of terrorism. The rules of normal international behavior should apply to both sides.

The bias against Israel is now so decisive that no one even asks why Israel has killed Hamas leaders who would be alive today if Arafat had kept his word and locked them up. The result is a vicious circle. First, Israel should not suffer the loss of its innocent citizens murdered by terrorists and simultaneously bare the burden of blame for self-protection, nor should Israel be expected to sit down and talk with the people it knows are co-conspirators in trying to destroy it. This is what the Oslo and roadmap processes have brought to Israel.

Diplomacy cannot be the answer when it has become an arena in which the United Nations and the Europeans can make impossible demands on Israel while turning a blind eye to Palestinian violence. Diplomats did both truth and peace a disservice when they accepted dishonest and implausible excuses from the Palestinian leadership, even while financing that leadership faction and, by extension, its terrorist activity.

Diplomacy in such a circumstance is the wrong answer because it puts the wrong people in charge of finding a solution. Diplomats, by their nature, believe in talk and in paper. They value meetings and agreements. But in order for diplomacy to work, negotiators must be honest brokers willing to keep commitments. Diplomacy should not be used as political checkmate while one side keeps its word, and the other side willfully disregards its promises to gain political advantage. The roadmap, developed by the Bush administration during early 2003 in cooperation with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, makes clear that all sides must make tangible steps towards a two-state vision. But, it was a product of a period of failure now past. It is time to move on. With Saddam Hussein's fall and Arafat's death, there is an opportunity to do better. Ironically, the Palestinians have more to gain from replacing the roadmap with a more effective strategy than do the Israelis.

The roadmap should be replaced with a carrot and stick approach that recognizes that the center of gravity for peace in the region is the growth of a pro-peace, prosperity, and freedom wing of the Palestinian people. The primary requirement for peace should be the destruction of the terrorists. This inherently is not a diplomatic task. Smoke and mirrors will not work.

Win the War to Win the Peace

The new strategy should be based on new premises, carried out by new organizational relationships, and focus on a new set of metrics for success. First, both Western governments and their Arab allies should recognize that there is a real war underway between a minority of the Palestinians and the Israelis. This minority of Palestinians has one goal: to destroy Israel. It is impossible to negotiate with this group, and it is equally impossible for the Israelis to engage in rounds of diplomacy when their women and children are being brutally murdered in an ongoing dance of death and destruction.

Second, the goal must be to establish safety for the Israeli people. It is the duty of a government to protect its own citizens.

Third, it is important to recognize that the vast, but intimidated, majority of the Palestinian people would like to live in safety, health, prosperity, and freedom. Most Palestinians do not want their children living in war torn neighborhoods surrounded by poverty and devastation. They do not want to live their lives under the heel of a corrupt, brutal, and incompetent dictatorship.

Fourth, protecting Israel and developing a peaceful Palestinian leadership has to precede any lasting diplomatic solution. Instead of focusing on diplomacy, the White House and State Department should develop two parallel tracks, one for helping Israel defend itself and the other for helping the Palestinian people develop a better future.

The president should state unambiguously that only when there is a stable, peaceful West Bank and Gaza and when Israelis are living in a safe country with no casualties, can the two sides negotiate complex issues such as the status of Jerusalem. Such a policy would put the burden on the Palestinian leadership to create the environment that would allow them to come to the negotiating table.

The intelligence community, police, military, economists, business and medical communities all matter more than the bilateral diplomatic discourse. Only when these elements have succeeded, will it be time once again to call on the Israeli and Palestinian diplomats.

This does not mean there is no role for U.S. and European diplomats. They can develop new strategies and new systems to enable the peaceful Palestinians to defeat terrorist Palestinians and bring prosperity to the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.

But diplomacy must be based on multilateral honesty, metrics defined for safety, peace, and prosperity, and multilateral efforts to help Israel adjust to these new strategies and to help the pro-peace Palestinians acquire control of the resources which have been looted by the previous faction. This is a larger, not a smaller, challenge for today's diplomatic corps. U.S. diplomats in Israel, whether based in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, should not meet with agents of a single Palestinian faction, nor should they be tempted to engage with those who seek to win legitimacy through terrorism. Instead, they should reach out to those who eschew both terrorism and corruption, like the Palestinian banker-turned-democracy activist Issam Abu Issa.[8]

Limitations on Israeli Actions

While Israelis have the right of self defense, Washington should impose three limitations on Israel: first, the White House should insist that a free hand in building a security fence does not mean a free hand to expand the Israeli settlements in a land grab. The U.S. government should become the protector of the Palestinian people's right to have a decent amount of land and to have continuous communications and travel between their areas. The desire of some Israelis to use security as an excuse to grab more Palestinian land should be blocked by Washington even if that requires employing financial or other leverage to compel the Israeli government to behave reasonably on the issue of settlements. It is vital to our credibility in the entire Middle East that we insist on an end to Israeli expansionism. It is vital to our humanitarian duty to the Palestinian people that we protect the weaker party from the stronger power. It is vital that the world sees that our total support for Israeli security is not matched by a one-sided support for more extreme Israeli territorial goals.

Second, the U.S. government should actively support a democratic Palestinian state. There are a number of Israeli politicians who would be willing to see the negotiations carried on forever. In their view, there is no reason to have a Palestinian state. They are in their own way the equivalent of those Palestinians who believe Israel can be coerced into a right of return for Palestinians even if it would mean the end of Israel. The U.S. government can play a constructive role by stating the circumstances under which it would recognize a Palestinian state and establish an embassy. President George W. Bush has already taken key steps in this direction, outlining the conditions for recognizing a Palestinian state in a June 24, 2002 speech.[9] These steps should be driven home repeatedly in public diplomacy. The burden of action should remain on the Palestinians. Ending terrorism is not negotiable nor can concessions be won through violence.

Third, the United States should begin to take clear steps to bring a better life for the Palestinian people and should propose better systems and solutions to ease the daily depravations of the Palestinian people. U.S. agencies might provide specific guarantees and systems to monitor local security activities, to relieve the Israelis of the duty, while still upholding Israel's security needs. For example, U.S. officials might run an airport in Gaza, so people could enter Palestinian territories without having to go through Israel. U.S. security officials might impose biometric requirements for people flying through the airport.

Palestinian Preconditions of Peace

Israel can only find peace when Israel has a partner capable of enforcing the peace. The fanciest diplomatic agreements are of no value if those who seek violence can defeat and intimidate those who seek peace. The key first step toward a lasting peace is not at the negotiating table, but inside Palestinian society.

The Palestinian leadership should replicate the same hard choices that the Irish Free State made in 1922 when it reached the conclusion that it had to defeat the Irish Republican Army if it was ever going to have a stable, independent Ireland. The Irish case is instructive. While the power of the British Empire had been inadequate to defeat the Irish Republican Army over a six-year period (1916-22), the new Irish Free State won the civil war in a few months.

The Irish Free State's leadership put its people first. The Palestinian leadership has until now shown no inclination to do likewise. It remains impossible to establish an independent Palestine for three reasons. First, Palestinian terrorists are prepared to kill those who advocate compromise. Those who favor a better future are too disorganized, too timid, and too untrained to defeat the forces of terrorism. Second, the Palestinian Authority's corrupt machine has viewed any real reforms as a threat to its survival and threatens with violence any true reformers. Lastly, there has been no systematic effort from the outside to identify, organize, train, finance, and equip a responsible wing of the Palestinian people in opposition to terrorists whether they are in Hamas's camp or in the Palestinian Authority's.

For the Palestinians to move forward, the matrix for their government's success should be its ability to bring security, health, prosperity, and freedom for its people. Washington should identify and work with responsible Palestinians who share these goals. By insisting that resources and support will go only to those Palestinians who work actively for an accountable, democratic Palestinian government willing to live in peace with Israel, the White House and State Department can establish a basis on which to build a movement and an accountable government.

The State Department should strongly urge the European Union and the United Nations to insist on transparency and accountability in money being sent into the Palestinian territories. The multi-billion dollar corruption being unearthed in the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program in Iraq gives Washington the high ground to insist that the Palestinian oligarchs not be allowed to steal from their people and from donors, as Saddam long did.[10] To this aim, there should be an outside independent audit of past expenditures by the United Nations in the camps that its Refugee Works Administration operates. The Palestinian people should expect a full accounting for the money that has been stolen. Forensic investigators should track down all the assets of a lifetime of theft and insist that it be paid back to the Palestinian people.

Congress should establish a program of economic aid for the Palestinian people to match the aid the U.S. government provides Israel. Palestinian aid would be largely economic and for policing while security concerns necessitate that Israel receive a far higher military component. The goal of U.S. aid should be to bring education, jobs, and health care to the Palestinians, not to line the pockets of its leadership. The Bush administration should challenge the Europeans and Arab countries to join in this program.

Congress might also pass a tax credit for businesses and individuals willing to invest in Israeli-Palestinian joint ventures and to subsidize the creation of Palestinian free trade and free investment zones.

It is important not only that Western democracies help the Palestinian leadership develop the infrastructure of a responsible state, but also that the West stands united in pressuring those countries which continue to support Palestinian terrorism. Both the Europeans and Washington should make it clear that they regard this as an act of hostility to them and no longer acceptable under any circumstance.

As the Israeli economy continues to develop into one of the world's most important high technology centers, its demand for labor is an enormous opportunity to enrich Palestinians while also enriching Israelis. As Palestinian entrepreneurs learn to work with Israeli entrepreneurs in creating jobs and wealth for both people, the opportunity is enormous for the Palestinians to develop the highest income among the non-oil economies of the Middle East.

Palestinian population density and the small size of its territory need not be impediments to a productive future. Hong Kong and Singapore are both more crowded than Gaza, but both are richer than Gaza by enormous margins. Gaza has the benefit of proximity to both Israel's high-technology economy and all the wealth of Europe. There is no inherent reason the people of Gaza could not have a terrific future of opportunity and prosperity.

Gaza even has great potential for tourism. Its beaches are far warmer than the beaches of Italy. There is no reason they should be less profitable. The potential for religious tourism in the West Bank is obvious. Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho have a historic and tourist interest to billions of Asians whose rising incomes have bolstered their interest in travel. As terrorists are defeated and the West Bank becomes safe, there is every reason to believe the tourist industry could rebound and bring substantial prosperity to the area. Such economic opportunities could convince Palestinian youth to seek a better future instead of violent death.

Fulfillment of these goals will require that the Palestinian education system be overhauled to make it pro-jobs and pro-economic productivity and to eliminate anti-Israel propaganda from the school system. No state-supported newspaper, radio or television stations should engage in anti-Israeli incitement. Monitoring should be intense, and complaints be immediate and with real financial consequence if the agreement is not maintained.

The West is not operating in a vacuum. Many states wish to see a Palestinian democracy fail. They will seek to impose a radical agenda by means of self-described humanitarian organizations. The West should develop secular systems of humanitarian aid for impoverished and ill Palestinians that outperform those support systems run by terrorist organizations. Unfortunately, most Western nongovernmental organizations do not fit the bill. Many have proved themselves to be committed more toward leftist politics than they are to peace.[11]

The Palestinians should be equally responsible for their future. One of the real tests of the new, more responsible Palestinian system will be the ability to assure fellow Palestinians from abroad that they are personally safe and that their money is safe if they want to invest in their ancestral lands and help create wealth. The Palestinian diaspora has been remarkably successful in business. It can help modernize and make prosperous the Palestinian people, just as many Iraqi businessmen have chosen since Iraq's liberation to invest in their own homeland. There is great wealth and, even more important, great knowledge and great contacts among the Palestinian expatriates. If they can be convinced to help their fellow Palestinians prosper as Jews across the world have been doing for Israel since 1948, then the prospects of creating a truly prosperous Gaza and West Bank will increase dramatically. Arafat's failure to engage the great talents of Palestinians overseas is a reflection of the general failure.

Those Palestinians whose hatred of Israel trumps their desire to win a better future for the next generation may wish to ignite a civil war against the forces of Palestinian tolerance and democracy. No one should underestimate how violent and how bitter this civil war could be. Mao Zedong wrote that all power comes out of the end of a rifle. He also wrote that one man with a rifle can control 100 villagers without a weapon.[12] The forces of terrorism have relied on the power of the violent to dominate the tolerant. The U.S. government must strengthen the responsible elements of society so they can defeat the haters and the killers.

Rather than shrink from responsibility, Washington should step forward to defend freedom and democracy. We have done this before, not only helping the Philippines secretary of national defense Ramon Magsaysay defeat the communist Hukbalahap in the Philippines in the late 1940s but also working together with Great Britain to help anti-communists defeat the communist guerrillas in Greece in the wake of World War II. U.S. aid allowed the government of El Salvador to win a full blown civil war in the 1980s. There are a number of other occasions where intervention on the side of a responsible party defeated terrorists.

In effect, Washington would be offering the Palestinian people a straight proposition: if you defeat terrorism and accept Israel as a neighbor, we can invest enough resources to help you become prosperous and create a safe, free country in which people have a good future.

Can America Afford to Do What's Necessary?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has absorbed a large amount of U.S. government attention and effort over the last forty years, and yet it persists and remains a continuing drain on the American capacity to lead worldwide.

If the U.S. government helps end the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians, we would be both saving a significant amount of potential treasure and blood and living in a dramatically safer world. The United States is an enormous country with the largest economy in the world. If we invested as much in peace between Israel and Palestine as we spend annually on knee replacement, pet food, alcohol, going to the movies, or a dozen other discretionary expenditures, we would have no constraints on our financial ability to support the side of peace.

When Secretary of State George Catlett Marshall proposed the Marshall Plan to keep Western Europe from going communist, he was proposing spending over 3 percent of the American economy.[13] In today's larger economy, that would be a program of over US$330 billion in aid.

The leaders who won World War II, and ultimately the Cold War, understood that the United States should spend whatever was necessary to achieve national security. With real leadership and a real vision of ending the more than half century of bloodshed in the Middle East, the American people will support what their leaders believe it takes to be effective and get the job done. The timidity is not among the American people. The timidity is in their elected officials in Washington and in the bureaucrats who advise those elected officials.

If we set the right goals and develop the right strategies, we will find that for a tiny fraction of the Marshall Plan's costs we can decisively help both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. In that process, we will also make the world safer for the American people. That is a win-win-win worth working for.

Newt Gingrich, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives between 1995 and 1999. He thanks Bill Sanders for his assistance with the research for this article.

[1] John R. Bolton, undersecretary for arms control and international security, "Syria's Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missile Development Programs," testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, Sept. 16, 2003.
[2] The New York Times, Apr. 6, 2005.
[3] "Terrorism and the Peace Process," background paper, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 14, 1998.
[4] The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 5, 2005.
[5] Quoted in Kenneth R. Timmerman, "Truth from the Mouths of Terrorists," The Washington Times, June 20, 2003.
[6] Ed Koch, "No U.S. Troops to Israel," Jewish World Review, June 20, 2003.
[7] Ben Thein, "Is Israel's Security Barrier Unique?" Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2004, pp. 25-32.
[8] Issam Abu Issa, "Arafat's Swiss Bank Account," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2004, pp. 15-23.
[9] "President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership," White House speech, June 24, 2002.
[10] Claudia Rosett, "Oil-for-Terror?" National Review Online, Apr. 18, 2004.
[11] Gerald Steinberg, "NGOs Make War on Israel," Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2004, pp. 13-25.
[12] Mao Tse-Tung, "Problems of War and Strategy," Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Beijing: China Books and Periodicals, 1990).
[13] Michael J. Hogan, The Marshall Plan: America, Britain, and the Reconstruction of Western Europe, (Cambridge, 1987).