During the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Prime Minister Howard said that “until there is an acceptance in the entire Arab world of Israel’s right to exist and an embrace of the two state solution, we’re never going to have a lasting peace” in the Middle East. The refusal of Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas “to accept Israel’s right to exist is still at the core of the whole dispute.”
Howard was treading a well worn path for those who are unequivocally pro-Israel in Middle East debates. Both his general approach to the conflict and the specific phrases he employs to discuss it were originally forged in Washington. According to Israel’s supporters, recognition of Israel’s “right to exist” by its enemies is not a diplomatic bargaining chip but a prerequisite for negotiations. No equivalent “right to exist” need be accorded the Palestinian state, either before or after talks designed to resolve the dispute.