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Can Obama stand up to Israel?

It won't be easy, but President Obama must hold Israel to account, both for the two-state solution and the safety of US troops around the world.

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President Obama urgently needs to distance Washington from the provocative – and illegal – actions the Israeli government has been undertaking in Jerusalem.

He needs to do this to save the two-state solution that he supports between Israelis and Palestinians. He needs to do it, too, because it will help protect US troops around the world. Jerusalem is a core concern for many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, and with US forces now facing tense situations in several majority-Muslim countries, Washington has a stronger need than ever to keep the goodwill of the peoples of those lands.

This is one of the main findings from a study-tour of the region I co-led earlier this month. In Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and the West Bank, strongly pro-US leaders underlined to us the importance of Jerusalem to their own political fortunes and those of other American allies throughout the Muslim world.

Israel took control of the eastern portion of Jerusalem, including the historic, walled "Old City," in the 1967 war. Since then, Israeli governments have invested heavily in implanting Jewish settlers into East Jerusalem, while squeezing out the area's indigenous Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians.

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