the dispute is calmer than it has been in years, which, in the brutal logic of the Middle East, means that neither side is eager right now for the necessary compromises. So why push so hard?
The answer has a number of levels, but the most important is this: The United States believes that if it can end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its fraught relationship with the Muslim world will greatly improve, thereby allowing America to accomplish much that is currently eluding it in places like Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, not to mention easing its role as the prime guarantor of Israel’s own security.
Israel has also made clear that it knows that a strong Washington on its side is central to its security. A weakened or humiliated United States is not viewed here as in Israel’s interest. That is the main reason that a year ago Mr. Netanyahu froze most settlement building in the West Bank for 10 months — Mr. Obama had made such a point of asking for it.On July 4, Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, spoke at an American Independence Day celebration in Israel. He told of the time David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, first met John F. Kennedy in 1961, days before he was inaugurated as president.Kennedy asked Ben-Gurion how he could help Israel. “The best thing you can do for Israel,” Mr. Peres said Ben-Gurion replied, “is be a great president of the United States.” A strong America is vital for Israel, he added.