Friday, May 8, 2009

The Hamas ‘Peace’ Gambit.


by Charles Krauthammer

"Apart from the time restriction (a truce that lapses after 10 years) and the refusal to accept Israel's existence, Mr. Meshal's terms approximate the Arab League peace plan …"
- Hamas peace plan, as explained by the New York Times

"Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"        
- Tom Lehrer, satirist

The Times conducted a five-hour interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal at his Damascus headquarters. Mirabile dictum, they're offering a peace plan with a two-state solution. Except. The offer is not a peace but a truce that expires after 10 years. Meaning that after Israel has fatally weakened itself by settling millions of hostile Arab refugees in its midst, and after a decade of Hamas arming itself within a Palestinian state that narrows Israel to eight miles wide — Hamas restarts the war against a country it remains pledged to eradicate.

There is a phrase for such a peace: the peace of the grave.

Westerners may be stupid, but Hamas is not. It sees the new American administration making overtures to Iran and Syria. It sees Europe, led by Britain, beginning to accept Hezbollah. It sees itself as next in line. And it knows what to do. Yasser Arafat wrote the playbook.

With the 1993 Oslo accords, he showed what can be achieved with a fake peace treaty with Israel — universal diplomatic recognition, billions of dollars of aid, and control of Gaza and the West Bank, which Arafat turned into an armed camp. In return for a signature, he created in the Palestinian territories the capacity to carry on the war against Israel that the Arab states had begun in 1948 but had given up after the bloody hell of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Meshal sees the opportunity. Not only is the Obama administration reaching out to its erstwhile enemies in the region, but it begins its term by wagging an angry finger at Israel over the Netanyahu government's ostensible refusal to accept a two-state solution.

Of all the phony fights to pick with Israel. No Israeli government would turn down a two-state solution in which the Palestinians accepted territorial compromise and genuine peace with a Jewish state. (And any government that did would be voted out in a day.)

Netanyahu's own defense minister, Ehud Barak, offered precisely such a deal in 2000. He even offered to divide Jerusalem and expel every Jew from every settlement remaining in the new Palestine.

The Palestinian response (for those who have forgotten) was: No. And no counteroffer. Instead, nine weeks later, Arafat unleashed a savage terror war that killed 1,000 Israelis.

Netanyahu is reluctant to agree to a Palestinian state before he knows what kind of state it will be. That elementary prudence should be shared by anyone who's been sentient the last three years. The Palestinians already have a state, an independent territory with not an Israeli settler or soldier living on it. It's called Gaza. And what is it? A terror base, Islamist in nature, Iranian-allied, militant and aggressive, that has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli civilians.

If this is what a West Bank state is going to be, it would be madness for Israel or America or Jordan or Egypt or any other moderate Arab country to accept such a two-state solution. Which is why Netanyahu insists that the Palestinian Authority first build institutions — social, economic and military — to anchor a state that could actually carry out its responsibilities to keep the peace.

Apart from being reasonable, Netanyahu's two-state skepticism is beside the point. His predecessor, Ehud Olmert, worshiped at the shrine of a two-state solution. He made endless offers of a two-state peace to the Palestinian Authority — and got nowhere.

Why? Because the Palestinians — going back to the U.N. partition resolution of 1947 — have never accepted the idea of living side by side with a Jewish state. Those like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who might want to entertain such a solution, have no authority to do it. And those like Hamas's Meshal, who have authority, have no intention of ever doing it.

Meshal's gambit to dress up perpetual war as a two-state peace is yet another iteration of the Palestinian rejectionist tragedy. In its previous incarnation, Arafat lulled Israel and the Clinton administration with talk of peace while he methodically prepared his people for war.

Arafat waited seven years to tear up his phony peace. Meshal's innovation? Ten - then blood.



Charles Krauthammer

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Israel and the peace initiative.


 by Ami Isseroff


The American sponsored peace initiative seems to have little rational thinking behind it and little chance of success. But while the President of the United States may not be right, he is certainly the President of the United States. Israel cannot afford to forget that. Nonetheless, Israel's first responsibility must be to ensure that it has a viable defense.

A great peace initiative is being undertaken by the United States. The general idea seems to bundle a remodeled Arab Peace Initiative for regional peace, Palestinian-Israeli peace based on a two state solution and a solution to the problem of Iranian nuclear weapons development. Lately, a fourth element was apparently added - general nuclear disarmament and arms control, including hints that the U.S. expects Israel to become a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty. All this will somehow, so the theory goes, make it easier for the United States to secure its withdrawal from Iraq, and prevent a disaster in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The United States is not acting alone. Russia has invited UN Security Council members to a meeting to promote Middle East peace. The EU has come on board with any part of the plan that involved pressuring Israel. Germany's Angela Merkel, has expressed enthusiasm for the renewed peace process, which should do its business in the next few months and should be based on a two-state solution. Tony Blair announced that a new Middle East peace plan will be unveiled in 5-6 weeks, and Jordan's King Abdullah is supposedly at work on formulating a new and improved Arab peace initiative. This is a relatively well coordinated, multilateral and multidimensional effort - an attempt by everyone to solve everything at once. The driving imperative is that the current mess cannot be allowed to continue. It is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, bad for America, and provides wonderful issues and opportunities for Iran and al-Qaeda.

One may be forgiven nonetheless for expressing skepticism. The key drawbacks of the Arab peace plan in principle are the insistence of return of Palestinian refugees, denial of Jewish rights in East Jerusalem, and failure to explicitly recognize Israel as a Jewish State. Of implementation there is nothing to say, because there is simply no method of implementation and no guarantee that any Israeli concessions will produce a peace agreement. The Palestinians and others have already said that the peace plan will be precisely the same as the 2002 Arab peace initiative. As for Mahmoud Abbas, Maannews summarized his position and that of the Arabs:

He affirmed that the Arab side would be submitting the Arab Peace Initiative to Washington when he met with them, and that all sides were in agreement over its soundness. "We will not be bringing a new document,"

Moreover, given that the Palestinians do not control Gaza or Hamas, it is unlikely they could deliver on any peace plan that might be signed.

Tony Blair insists that resolving the Middle East conflict is critical to curbing Iran. Since the Middle East conflict was not resolved in several generations of diplomacy and war, that is about like saying that that in order to cure the patient it is only necessary to turn lead into gold. Rahm Emanuel, along with Blair, insists on the linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid it on the line:

"For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand"...

She also insisted that a two state solution is inevitable, As for the grand plan that is supposed to stop the Iranian nuclear development project, there is no sign of it in sight. Not even a hint. The United States has declared that it is not seeking Iranian regime change. It has more or less taken the military option off the table, and has publicly warned Israel on more than one occasion and through more than one official, not to take military action on its own. There is no practical sanctions plan that can be implemented, since Russia and China would not agree to enforce or obey sanctions, the Swiss, suppliers of refined fuel to the Tehran regime would not agree to sanctions either, the UAE trades freely with Iran, and the Qataris have apparently aligned themselves with Iran.

The Arabs, the EU, The Americans, the Palestinians and the Russians are all a part of this effort. Everyone is involved in preparing this initiative or initiatives except Israel. That is ominous, to say the least.

A skeptic with some knowledge of the Middle East might be forgiven for doubting that either Middle East peace or a solution to the Iranian threat can come out of all this frenetic activity. The US is seemingly playing with an empty hand and counterfeit money. The real linkage between a peace settlement and the Iranian issue is in the opposite direction: No peace sponsored by the United States can succeed as long as Iran is there to torpedo it. The US has no leverage on Iran or Syria. It has already abandoned Lebanon to the Hezbollah, Iran's client. It has already given away its leverage on Syria by announcing that it will push for Israeli-Syrian peace. In Iraq, it is fighting to cover its withdrawal against a mounting tide of violence, probably encouraged by Iran. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, it it is soliciting help from Iran in combating the increasingly successful Taleban uprising. The Arabs have already announced, for the most part, that they are not going to be changing their peace initiative in any way, and even moderate Arab opinion fully expects that the only thing that must come out of this peace initiative is unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. The Palestinians are nowhere near forming a unified government that will conform even nominally to any imaginable peace process.

However, there is nothing to be gained by panic on the part of Israel or of it supporters, and there is not a good foundation for assuming, as some do, that the United States has betrayed or abandoned Israel. We have not seen the American initiative yet, nor the Arab response. President Obama enjoys immense prestige. Since World War II, the president of the United States has always been recognized as the most powerful leader on earth, but Obama probably has more power to persuade than any president since Harry S Truman, and more determination to succeed at peacemaking than most previous presidents. The scary headlines about demands for Israeli concessions by Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or others usually conceal concomitant rock solid commitments to Israeli security and a fair peace, as well as calls for Arab concessions. If nothing at all comes of this initiative other than an agreement in principle by Arabs to abandon the right of return issue in return for Israeli concessions such as agreement to a two state solution, it can still be a huge victory for Israel and peace, and it can be spun as an American victory and a Palestinian victory that will enable whatever mysterious process the US will undertake to attempt to curb Iran. The implementation of the agreement will of course be conditional on rectifying the situation in the Gaza strip and ensuring that Palestinians can really be responsible for security. Don't hold your breath until that happens.

But in order to get that benefit, Israel must play ball. The alternative to Israeli cooperation with the United States is disaster for Israel. The initiative has broad support. Israel cannot possibly stand alone against the united opinion of virtually the entire world. At some point, probably when Benjamin Netanyahu goes to Washington, Israel is going to have to commit not only to a two state solution, but possibly agree also to some other painful concessions, if the Obama administration can deliver the requisite Arab concessions. It is always necessary to ensure that Israel and its supporters are on the side of peace and are not perceived as totally isolated in the world community. That is exactly the effect that Palestinians are trying to create, and that media are trying to create with scare headlines. President Shimon Peres struck the right notes both in his remarks at the AIPAC policy conference and in his public remarks with US officials. Benjamin Netanyahu likewise struck a positive note in his brief address to the AIPAC policy meeting: Israel is prepared to resume negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions; Iran is the common danger. Every position should emphasize points of agreement. Each move should be considered carefully. We must never give away something for nothing, but we should never make enemies or portray ourselves as bellicose for no reason. If we have to say "no," we need to say it nicely. Was it wise, for example, of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announce that the "peace industry" as he called it, is a waste of money? What did that remark gain, and what will it cost Israel?

It is very likely that this peace initiative will lay a great big egg, but it is also undoubtedly true that the United States government thinks that it is helping Israel and that it must have "progress" in Middle East peace. We can either be partners with our friend the United States in this venture, or we can be forced to give up the same concessions reluctantly and in bad humor, and then get blamed for the failure of the venture.

For nothing is more certain that when the great peace crusade fails once again, scapegoats will be sought, and scapegoats will be found, and will be duly sacrificed. After the last disastrous fiasco, Bill Clinton was gracious enough to pin the blame where he thought it belonged. But he was out of office by then and could afford to tell the truth. The media are already setting the stage with giant headlines about pressure on Israel, many of which are not just quite justified by the content of the stories. There is no reason to aid in this endeavor.

And what about Iran? Who will save poor little Israel from Iran? The United States is counting on negotiations and sanctions to get Iran to stop building nuclear weapons. There is no chance of any such negotiations succeeding inasmuch as the United States has absolutely nothing to trade that the Iranian regime wants more than nuclear weapons. As Joseph Kechichian points out, such negotiations are futile. The attempt to link Iran to Israeli-Palestinian peace is not impressive. The Arab states have very little to offer that could solve the crisis, so that cannot be the reason for linkage. It is hard to believe that they would invite Iranian nuclear enforced hegemony over a "Shi'ite crescent" just to spite Israel. The United States itself may or may not be short-sighted enough to be willing to live with a nuclear Iran. That cannot be a guide for Israeli policy.

The answer for Israel, as difficult as it may seem, has to be the same as it always was, "If I am not for myself, then who is?" We must make the diplomatic conditions for Israel as best as they can possibly be, but our fate is in our hands. We cannot depend on others to provide our defense in a vital issue such as this. That is the real meaning of independence. It has a cost, but if we want to be independent we must be ready to pay that cost.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Is the world just plain stupid?

 By Yashiko Sagamori

An interesting questionnaire for Palestinian Advocates. 

If you are so sure that "Palestine, the country, goes back through most of recorded history," I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine :  
1.  When was it founded and by whom?
2.  What were its borders?
3.  What was its capital?
4.  What were its major cities?
5.  What constituted the basis of its economy?
6.  What was its form of government?
7.  Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
8.  Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
9.  What was the language of the country of Palestine ?
10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?
11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?
And here is the least sarcastic question of all: If the people you mistakenly call "Palestinians" are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over – or thrown out of – the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?
I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day "Palestinians" to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won't work here.
The truth should be obvious to everyone who wants to know it. Arab countries have never abandoned the dream of destroying Israel; they still cherish it today. Having time and again failed to achieve their evil goal with military means, they decided to fight Israel by proxy. For that purpose, they created a terrorist organization, cynically called it "the Palestinian people," and installed it in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. How else can you explain the refusal by Jordan and Egypt to unconditionally accept back the "West Bank" and Gaza, respectively?

The fact is, Arabs populating Gaza, Judea, and Samaria have much less claim to nationhood than that Indian tribe that successfully emerged in Connecticut with the purpose of starting a tax-exempt casino: at least that tribe had a constructive goal that motivated them. The so-called "Palestinians" have only one motivation: the destruction of Israel and in my book that is not sufficient to consider them a nation" -- or anything else except what they really are: a terrorist organization that will one day be dismantled.

In fact, there is only one way to achieve peace in the Middle East. Arab countries must acknowledge and accept their defeat in their war against Israel and, as the losing side should, pay Israel reparations for the more than 50 years of devastation they have visited on it. The most appropriate form of such reparations would be the removal of their terrorist organization from the land of Israel and accepting Israel's ancient sovereignty over Gaza, Judea, and Samaria.

That will mark the end of the Palestinian people. What are you saying again was its beginning?


Yashiko Sagamori

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Obama prepares to throw Israel under the bus.


by Melanie Phillips

A sobering view by one of Britain's most respected columnists

Barak Obama is attempting to throw Israel under the Islamist bus, and he’s getting American Jews to do his dirty work for him. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly told the Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Sunday that efforts to stop Iran hinged on peace talks with the Palestinians. General James Jones, National Security Adviser to Obama, reportedly told a European foreign minister a week ago that unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be ‘forceful’ with Israel.
Ha’aretz reports:

Jones is quoted in the telegram as saying that the United States, European Union and moderate Arab states must redefine ‘a satisfactory endgame solution.’ The U.S. national security adviser did not mention Israel as party to these consultations.

Of course not. If you are going to throw a country under the bus, you don’t invite it to discuss the manner of its destruction with the assassins who are co-coordinating the crime. As I said here months ago, the appointment of Jones and the elevation of his post of National Security Adviser at the expense of the Secretary of State was all part of the strategy to centralize power in the hands of those who want to do Israel harm.

On Tuesday, Vice-President Joe Biden and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry turned the thumbscrews tighter, telling Israel to stop building more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement.

This is all not only evil but exceptionally stupid. The idea that a Palestine state will help build a coalition against Iran is demonstrably absurd. The Arab states are beside themselves with anxiety about Iran. They want it to be attacked and its nuclear program stopped. They are desperately fearful that the Obama administration might have decided that it can live with a nuclear Iran.

The idea that if a Palestine state comes into being it will be easier to handle Iran is the opposite of the case: a Palestine state will be Iran, in the sense that it will be run by Hamas as a proxy for the Islamic Republic. The idea that a Palestine state will not compromise Israel’s security is ludicrous.

It is of course, by any sane standard, quite fantastic that America is behaving as if it is Israel which is holding up a peace settlement when Israel has made concession after concession – giving up Sinai, giving up Gaza, offering all the territories to the Arabs in return for peace in 1967, offering more than 90 per cent of them ditto in 2000, ditto again to Mahmoud Abbas in the past year -- only to be attacked in return by a Palestinian terrorist entity, backed in its continued aggression, let us not forget, by the countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which has made no concessions at all and is not being pressured to do so.

It is not the aggressor here but the victim of aggression that America is now choosing to beat up. In any sane world, one might think the Americans would be piling the pressure on the Palestinians to renounce their genocidal ambitions against Israel, to stop teaching and training their children to hate and kill Jews, to adhere to the primary requirement in the Road Map that they must dismantle their infrastructure of violence as the first step in the peace process; one might think, indeed, that they would view Mahmoud Abbas’s repeated statements that the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state to be the main impediment to peace.

But no. The repeated professions that America will never jeopardize Israel’s security are stomach churning when Obama is actually blaming Israel for measures it has taken to safeguard its security – the settlements were always first and foremost a security measure, and the travel restrictions are there solely to prevent more Israelis being murdered – and trying to force it to abandon them. Now comes further news that Obama will also try to force Israel to give up its nuclear weapons – which it only has as a last ditch insurance against the attempt to annihilate it to which several billion Arabs remain pledged.

Of course Obama doesn’t care that Hamas would run any Palestinian state. Of course he doesn’t care that Israel would be unable to defend itself against such a terrorist state. Because he regards Israel as at best totally expendable, and at worst as a running sore on the world's body politic that has to be purged altogether. His administration is proceeding on the entirely false analysis that a state of Palestine is the solution to the Middle East impasse and the route to peace in the region. What that state will look like or do is something to which at best the administration's collective mind is shut and at worst makes it a potential cynical accomplice to the unconscionable. So Israel is to be forced out of the West Bank. Far from building a coalition against Iran, Obama is thus doing Iran’s work for it.

None of this, however, should come as the slightest surprise to anyone who paid any attention to Obama’s background, associations and friendships before he became President and to the cabal of Israel-bashers, appeasers and Jew-haters he appointed to his administration, with a few useful idiots thrown in for plausible deniability.

American Jews, meanwhile, are reacting as predicted – with a total absence of spine.  As IsraelMatzav reports, AIPAC was sending delegates to visit Congress to 'convince' Representatives and Senators to sign a petition calling for a two-state solution. Inspired! Almost eighty per cent of American Jews voted for Obama despite the clear and present danger he posed to Israel. They did so because their liberal self-image was and is more important to them than the Jewish state whose existence and security cannot be allowed to jeopardize their standing with America’s elite.

But the ordinary American people are a different matter. They do value and support Israel. They do understand that if Israel is thrown under that bus, the west is next. And it is they to whom Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu must now appeal, over the heads of the politicians and the media and certainly America’s Jews and everyone else. He must tell the American people the terrible truth, that America is now run by a man who is intent on sacrificing Israel for a reckless and amoral political strategy which will put America and the rest of the free world at risk.

This is shaping up to be the biggest crisis in relations between Israel and America since the foundation of Israel six decades ago. Those who hate Israel and the Jews will be gloating. This after all is precisely what they hoped Obama would do. To any decent person looking on aghast, this is where the moral sickness of the west reaches the critical care ward.


Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author of, most recently, Londonistan. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. She was awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Monday, May 4, 2009

US Mideast policy is based on a mistake.

by  Vic Rosenthal


JERUSALEMThe new government of Israel is seeking to reorient the country's foreign policy, arguing that to rely purely on the formulas of trading land for peace and promising a Palestinian state fails to grasp what it views as the deeper issues: Muslim rejection of a Jewish state and the rising hegemonic appetite of Iran

Such an ambitious effort to reformulate the conflict will be, by all accounts, tough to sell for two reasons.

First, even though the standard approaches have not yielded success, no alternative has emerged.

Second, the Obama administration has repeatedly backed the two-state solution, as have the Europeans. In other ways, too, this White House has seemed to be closer in outlook to Europe than the past administration was.

There's an ambiguity in the concept "two-state solution". One meaning is an outcome, a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel. The other seems to be a strategy for getting there, which is that the US forces Israel to make concessions.

Most Israelis think that a two-state outcome would be acceptable, if the Palestinians actually wanted it and if there were a way to safely obtain it. The Israeli government has been committed to this since Oslo. But practically no ordinary Israelis believe that it's possible today, for two reasons: Hamas and Iran.

Muslim rejectionism of Israel has been around since 1947. It's been the cause of several major and minor wars and much terrorism between wars. Some people thought that there was a window of opportunity around the early 1990's, when external influences on the Palestinians were at their ebb: Iran and Iraq were weakened by their long war, the Soviet Union was gone. Possibly enough Palestinians could be found who were pragmatic enough to choose peace. But then somebody decided to pick Yasser Arafat, rejectionist par excellence to lead the Palestinians. And the window, such as it was, closed.

Israel's effort to switch the discussion to Iran is likely to be met in Washington and in European capitals with the assertion that it is precisely because of the need to build an alliance to confront Iran that Israel must move ahead vigorously with the Palestinians as well as with the Syrians.

"President Obama views the region as a whole, and trying to isolate each problem does not reflect reality," said a senior American official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the American policy was still in formation. "It will be a lot easier to build a coalition to deal with Iran if the peace process is moving forward."

This 'linkage theory' — that the presence of Israel in the territories prevents progress on other issues, like Iranian weapons — is a blinding non-sequitur.

We know that Israel giving land to the Palestinians today will not lead to a peaceful two-state outcome. Gaza proves that. And the reason that this is so is because the Iranian-backed Hamas will prevent it. A similar argument can be made for the Golan Heights and Syria.

In the presence of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, territorial concessions lead to war, not peace.

The Americans and Europeans are proposing that Israel should make territorial concessions anyway. This, they believe will cause Arab states like Saudi Arabia or even Syria to help apply pressure to Iran to stop fomenting war and building nuclear bombs.

There are two big problems with this. The first is that it will leave Israel with a hostile terrorist state like today's Gaza on a shrunken eastern border, leaving its heavily populated coastal plain defenseless. The Palestinians will be emboldened in their belief that they can reverse the nakba, and the conflict will get worse, not better.

The Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead are both direct results of Israeli concessions to Iranian proxies.

The second is that a weakened Israel will be a far less effective deterrent to Iranian expansion and weapons development than a strong one. Despite their public statements, it wouldn't surprise me if the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians are counting on Israel to stop the Iranian weapons program before it's too late.

The Palestinian question is actually much less pressing than the Iranian one, and today the former is clearly dependent on the latter, not the other way around.

Here's is Bronner's summation. Somehow the typical arrogant attitude of the unnamed American official shines through:

Israel says the occupation can be ended most easily once Iran is put in its place because then there will be much less risk of Iranian weapons being used against Israel from neighboring territory. Meanwhile, Israel says it cannot be expected to freeze settlement growth entirely.

The American, European and Arab response is that for Iran to be checked, every nation needs to do its part, and Israel's part is to work toward ending the occupation, stopping settlement construction and fostering the creation of a Palestinian state.

When a senior American official was told that the Israelis did not view the Iranian and Palestinian problems as linked, he replied simply, "Well, we do."

Vic Rosenthal

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



US Mideast policy, part II.

by  Vic Rosenthal

Yesterday I explained how the Obama Administration’s policy toward Israel and the Palestinians is based on a mistake — the belief that the problems of Iranian expansionism and weapons development would be easier to solve once a Palestinian state had been established.

I argued that this is backwards, since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is exacerbated by Iranian support of Hamas, and that it is impossible to end the conflict without a change in Iran’s behavior.

I want to continue this thread with another argument, and then comment about the source of the mistake.

It seems to me that not only is the administration apparently blind to what Iran is doing now with regard to Israel and the Palestinians, its policy ignores Iranian plans for the future.

Iran has economic and political-religious objectives in the region. They would like to force the price of oil higher, so their less-efficient infrastructure can make a profit. As a result, they aspire to the power to bully Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to reduce production.

Further, Iran has expanded its influence in the arc comprising Syria and Lebanon: Syria has become an explicit satellite of Iran, a recipient of a huge amount of military hardware, much of which is under Iranian control.  Iranian influence over Lebanon, already great — Hezbollah presently is the single most powerful element in the government — will increase even more as Hezbollah makes expected gains in next month’s elections.

Egypt recently arrested a number of Hezbollah agents who were scouting targets for terrorist attacks, some of which were tourist sites where Israelis or Americans might be found, but others — such as locations along the Suez canal — indicated a plan to destabilize the regime. President Mubarak explicitly denounced Iran and Hezbollah.

In Iraq, with its Shiite majority, it’s hard to imagine that anything can prevent Iran from gaining control of that nation when US troops leave.

The Sunni nations are also worried that Iran may successfully export its brand of revolutionary Shiite Islamism, a previously unlikely outcome which its political successes make more and more imaginable.

All of these goals, of course, will be greatly aided by Iran’s achievement of a nuclear capability.

It’s obvious that the biggest obstacle to these plans is both the strongest military power in the region, and the closest ally of the US, Israel. And for this reason Iran is besieging Israel from the north and south by means of its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Note that this has nothing to do with the Palestinians, except insofar as they are being used as soldiers in the Iranian campaign to destroy Israel.

It is suggested that the Saudis and others will be more disposed to cooperate with the US in containing Iran if the Palestinian problem is ’solved’ first. But since it would have no effect on Iranian behavior, there is no reason to believe this.  If this idea came from the Arabs, then it’s more likely that they are simply using this as a handy stick to beat Israel with.

Let’s assume that the Obama administration and the US State Department understand that the policy as stated is absurd. Then what do they gain from forcing the creation of a Palestinian state at this time?

  • It’s not good for Israel and moderate Palestinians: as I said yesterday, it’s a prescription for war.
  • It will not retard Iranian plans, and if it weakens Israel — which it must — it will advance them. If Israel gives up the Golan Heights, it will represent a direct strategic advantage for Iranian proxies Syria and Hezbollah.
  • It will, however, please the Saudis, who would like to see a smaller (or no) Israel  and whose ‘peace plan‘ has now been mentioned as part of the formula for creating the Palestinian state.

Despite the talk about Barack Obama representing new beginnings, we see that US Mideast policy is still flowing from the same old sources. If the administration wants to give more than lip service to opposing Iranian plans, this has to change.

Vic Rosenthal

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.