October 6, 2010
Whether or not Iran is going to build nuclear weapons remains uncertain, as does the time-span in which it could be achieved. This is still some years away as Israel has only recently confirmed. A breakdown in the current attempt at Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations could lead to conflagration: anything other than a two state solution would be disastrous for Israel.
Despite this, the issue of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons dominates American and Israeli thinking. There is no obvious solution how to prevent this happening. The gulf of understanding between Washington and Tehran appears to rule out any agreement. Israel claims that Iran is an existential threat.
The problems caused by Iran are several: its role in Iraq and Afghanistan; its support for Hamas and Hizballah; its relationship with Syria and its indirect influence in Lebanon; its general sponsoring of terrorism… These problems exist without Iran having nuclear weapons.
The problem with Iran must therefore be seen in a wider context. The starting point is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its resolution is the key to a contextual transformation of relationships in the wider Middle East. It would reduce Iran’s influence in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria for a start.
It’s a pity that this does not appear to be recognized by Israel, having regard to its continued settlement building. The peace talks appear to be on the brink of breaking down, but there is a very small ray of hope. The Palestinian response to the end of the partial settlement construction embargo has been muted. Much is clearly going on behind the scenes.
The settlement issue cannot be resolved while the ultra religious parties are vital for the survival of Netanyahu’s coalition. Has the Prime Minister seen the light, realizing that the existing status quo would lead to disaster in the long term? The only way forward is for the religious parties to be replaced in government by Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. Any settlement agreed by Netanyahu would be approved in a referendum.
The focus of the US, Israel and Europe should therefore be on the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, not on Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.Author : Stanley Crossick