Roger L. Simon

Thoughts on the Middle East chess game

I notice that Shimon Peres has assured Barack Obama of the full cooperation of Israel in the perennial search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Is this to soften up the Americans for the hardball to be played by Big Bad Bibi on his visit to DC on May 18? Maybe, but I doubt it. The Israelis are playing a rather interesting hand at the moment because no matter how much or little their government or people want a peaceful solution to the conflict, the other side clearly doesn’t. Hamas we know about (read their charter), but Fatah too has hardly been serious about peace-making since Taba, or maybe even ever. [What would Saeb Erekat do if there really was peace?-ed. Move to Switzerland as fast as he could.] Only one side has a decent portion of their populace committed to a two-state solution – and that’s Israel. (Yes, I know there would be more Palaestians interested if their lives were better, yadda yadda. But how do you explain the Turks turning Islamist when their lives are better? Oh, yes, it’s those intransigent Israelis. The Turks, apparently, have no control over their own lives.)

Now it may be that Obama Administration doesn’t realize or want to hear this obvious truth – that the Palestinians aren’t interested in a two-state solution – but it still doesn’t change it. So where does this leave the Israelis? By far their primary concern at the moment is Iran. And for good reason. The Obama administration appears to be offering them a quid pro quo – try to make a deal with Palestinians and we will help you with Iran. If I were the Israelis I would be thinking, depending on the definition of “help,” this is not necessarily a bad thing – especially since the Arab world isn’t especially keen on the mullahs getting the bomb either.