Israel has good reason to be concerned. Most troubling is the Obama administration’s linking (also reported on Sunday by the New York Times‘s Ethan Bronner) of the Palestinian and Iranian issues — not only because the Palestinians are sharply divided between Hamas and Fatah fiefdoms and as anti-Israeli as ever, but also because the notion that Arab states threatened by Iran need to see “progress on the Palestinian issue” is no less divorced from reality.
As Amir Taheri details in the Wall Street Journal, Iran sees Obama’s approach to the region as weakness, “is intensifying its goal of regional domination,” and “has targeted six close allies of the U.S.: Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait, and Jordan, all of which are experiencing economic and/or political crises.” Compared to the stress and peril those countries are experiencing, the question of whether Israel is removing tiny outposts from West Bank hilltops, or holding back-slapping meetings with Abbas, is — whatever obligatory lip service their leaders keep paying — trivial and off the radar.
With 81-year-old President Hosni Mubarak likely soon to depart the scene, Egypt faces a major succession crisis and last month reported that an Iranian-sponsored espionage ring sought to topple the regime. Lebanon, already largely under the sway of Iran and its allies, faces falling totally under their sway if (most would say, when) the Hezbollah camp wins the June 7 elections. In Bahrain, Taheri notes, “Tehran hopes to see its allies sweep to power through mass demonstrations and terrorist operations.” Morocco, too, recently dismantled a pro-Iranian subversion network, and such groups have been uncovered in Kuwait and Jordan as well. Iran, Taheri remarks, sees Israel’s neighbor Jordan as a “colonial creation” that should “disappear from the map [i.e., along with Israel] — opening the way for a single state covering the whole of Palestine.”
Israel’s attempts to convince the Americans that progress toward peace first requires stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have apparently made no headway. Instead, Israel faces a Middle East where Iran keeps advancing toward regional hegemony and becoming a nuclear entity, while Israel continues to be strong-armed to deal with the wholly intractable Palestinian issue. This time, this delusional approach is becoming fatally dangerous to Israel, the region, and world stability.