Monday, November 16, 2009

Iran, Israel and the Palestinians

The United States has, in the last half of 2009, and seemingly accelerating now, been going out of its way to reassure Israeli security concerns. When Clinton went well beyond anything necessary to express US support for Israel, and described Israel's rejection of the terms expressed by the Obama administration emphatically earlier this year as an "unprecedented" advance, it seemed that the US is working to prove to Israel that it is not abandoning it.

Knowing, and knowing that by now Israel has been made to understand, the probable cost of a new sanctions project against Iran, if the US truly had plans to undergo such a project, Israel would be working to reassure the US that it can be helpful, instead of the other way around.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration presented Israel with a proposition that was false, that if it took tangible steps towards peace with the Palestinians, that would give the US more options to address Iran's nuclear program. If Israel had stopped all settlement building, or even if it had gone to talks and made an offer of full withdrawal from territories captured in 1967, that would not have had an impact on Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment.

This mistake came from Obama's sincere belief that an Israeli withdrawal, even a partial one, has some property of fairness that would move the hearts of everyone in the region, including the Iranians. Creating reservations for the Palestinians with fewer rights than US Native Americans, or the Bantu-stans that were offered to and rejected by South Africa's Black people, even on 93% of the land captured in 1967, would not satisfy either a majority of Palestinians or the rest of the region. This is a concept the Obama administration does not allow itself to understand.

Obama hopes that under extreme duress, the US will be able to coerce a Palestinian referendum accepting permanent defeat, and this acceptance will be accepted throughout the region. He is wrong the way the US leadership has been wrong since the foundation of Israel, and eventually the gap between the beliefs of the US foreign policy community and reality becomes unbridgeable.

So Iran turned down US "generous" offers to pressure Israel to give the Palestinians an official reservation in exchange for Iran's agreement to stop enrichment. This was an unexpected development to the US administration, which left the US without its best plan to stop Iran's nuclear program.

I can only guess what next year will bring. The US is not acting like a country that is going to impose punishing sanctions on Iran in order to maintain Israel's monopoly of nuclear capability in its region. The US is acting like a country that is in the process of giving up that quest and because of that working to reassure Israel that it will have the support needed to survive in a post-nuclear monopoly environment.

1 comment:

Lysander said...

Following up on my last comment on Ahmadinejad's upcoming visit to Brazil, it appears Argentina has given visiting Israeli president Perez a minor embarrassment when it said it supported a peaceful Iranian nuclear program.

This in addition to pro-Palestinian protesters greeting Mr Perez.

This could only embolden China to resist another sanctions push and its amazing to see it after a summer of demonizing post election Iran in the media.

Also, I suspect with time (a lot of time) it will also convince the U.S. to that international momentum is on Iran's side and the U.S. should get whatever deal it can and call it quits.