Posted by Joshua on Monday, April 12th, 2010
The coupling of US policy toward Iran and Israel is assailed from a number of directions. The Leveretts argue that the US needs better relations with Iran in order to exert enough pressure on Israel. Ray Takeyh arrives at the the opposite conclusion. He argues that the US needs better relations with Israel in order to exert enough pressure on Iran.
Here are the Leveretts in Getting the Iran-Palestine Connection Wrong.
The prospective approach that David Ignatius reports is under serious consideration by President Obama draws the wrong relationship between Iran and Palestine. As we have pointed out, it is simply not possible any more—if it were ever possible at some point in the past—to achieve Israeli-Palestinian or Arab-Israeli peace in a manner that excludes and marginalizes the Islamic Republic and its regional allies. Rather, today, the link between Iran and Palestine runs in the opposite direction: the United States needs a better and more productive relationship with the Islamic Republic, in part, because it will be impossible to achieve Arab-Israeli peace absent U.S.-Iranian rapprochement.
Here is Ray Takeyh A link to break: Iran and Mideast Peace Talks in the Washington Post, April 11, 2010; A17
…Iranian leaders take Israeli threats seriously and are at pains to assert their retaliatory options. It is here that the shape and tone of the U.S.-Israeli alliance matters most. Should the clerical oligarchs sense divisions in that alliance, they can assure themselves that a beleaguered Israel cannot possibly strike Iran while at odds with its superpower patron. Such perceptions cheapen Israeli deterrence and diminish the potency of the West’s remaining sticks.
All this is not to suggest that Washington cannot criticize Israeli policies, even publicly and forcefully…. But as they plot their strategies for resuming dialogue between Israel and its neighbors, U.S. policymakers would be wise to vociferously insist that the dynamics of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will not affect Washington’s cooperation with Israel on Iran. A concerted effort to decouple the peace process from Iran’s nuclear imbroglio is the best means of declawing the Islamic Republic.
Most analysts believe that Netanyahu will refuse to accept Obama’s peace plan, even with its lure of “doing something” about Iran if Israel moves toward a two state solution.
Here is Leverett:
–Netanyahu will say “no”. Obama Administration officials can argue as much as they want that resolving the Palestinian conflict is essential to a viable regional strategy for containing Iran, but Netanyahu—and, it should be said, most Israeli political and policy elites—do not buy it. Netanyahu will continue to insist that the Iranian challenge must take priority over the Palestinian issue and that Israel cannot deal with both at the same time…
Here is David Aron Miller who believes the “U.S. acts as though it seeks regime change in Israel”
There’s a widespread view — almost a conviction in Washington these days — that Netanyahu just isn’t capable of reaching a deal, and that the Palestinians and Arabs will never trust him. So why expend months of effort starting a process with Netanyahu that you can’t possibly conclude with him?
Mark Lynch in “Don’t waste the Obama peace plan card” warns against moving ahead with any Obama peace plan until the president knows what he will do when Netanyahu says no.
Netanyahu’s in his Speech at the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Ceremony, 11/04/2010 explained why Israel cannot trust American presidents to deliver on protecting the Jews. Netanyahu does not hide his point, which is that no US president will deliver on Iran and Israel must not be pushed into giving land to its enemies (the Palestinians). Here is a quote:
….The historic failure of the free societies when faced with the Nazi animal was that they did not stand up against it in time, while there was still a chance to stop it.
And here we are today again witnesses to the fire of the new-old hatred, the hatred of the Jews, that is expressed by organizations and regimes associated with radical Islam, headed by Iran and its proxies.
Iran’s leaders race to develop nuclear weapons and they openly state their desire to destroy Israel. But in the face of these repeated statements to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the Earth, in the best case we hear a weak protest which is also fading away.
The required firm protest is not heard – not a sharp condemnation, not a cry of warning. The world continues on as usual and there are even those who direct their criticism at us, against Israel. Today, 65 years after the Holocaust, we must say in all honesty that what is so upsetting is the lack of any kind of opposition. …
Netanyahu hit on the same theme at the AIPAC meeting in Washington last month, when he argued against Israel putting too much trust in American presidents, or any western leaders.
“Great men” like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill “saved the world,” Netanyahu said, but failed to prevent the murder of six million Jewish people in the Holocaust. “The future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men,” Netanyahu said. “Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.”
Netanyahu’s decision clearly has much more to do with the current status of U.S. efforts on Israeli-Palestinian peace and the posture that Israel’s PM is choosing to adopt in response to that, as Glenn Kessler hints in today’s Washington Post. …..
Netanyahu may be for a Greater Israel in which case he has to play for time; or he may not be for a Greater Israel but is unwilling to confront the settlers and their sympathizers and his own personal demons which that would entail, leading to the same conclusion. Play for time.
Playing for time though, is not pretty. In practice it entails entrenching an occupation/settlement reality which is unsustainable, just gets uglier, and has consequences. Those consequences include an increasingly undemocratic Israel, one that will have neither peace nor security, and an Israel that cannot work effectively with the region or even with its closest allies in facing the challenge of Iran. It also erodes Israel’s standing even in the U.S. and allows it to increasingly become a partisan political plaything.
What all this means for President Obama and his administration is that their best option is to pursue the ideas already under consideration, and leaked this week by David Ignatius in The Washington Post and Helene Cooper in NYT, to advance it’s own plan or terms of reference for a two-state deal and present these real and clear choices to the Israelis and Palestinians. If Netanyahu is able to do the right thing, it will only be under these circumstances, and if not Israelis have the chance to come to their own conclusion in their democracy. …
Steinitz Says Hard to Defend Israel Without Golan
By Alisa Odenheimer
April 8 (Bloomberg) — Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the Golan Heights are an “integral” part of Israel and it would be difficult to defend the country without the strategic plateau.
Steinitz, who visited the Golan today, also said he plans to increase funding for development there, according to an e- mailed statement from his office.
“The Golan has always been an integral part of the country and of the history of the Land of Israel, and it is difficult to see how it would be possible to protect the State of Israel without it,” Steinitz said according to the statement….. “This is a country that encourages terror and develops non-conventional weapons, and Syria’s friendship with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah endangers the whole world,” Steinitz said.
Terms of Endearment
The Obama administration’s Middle East diplomacy goes from bad to worse.
BY Elliott Abrams, April 7, 2010 1:05 PM
“Obama to Impose Terms on Israel” is the headline you didn’t read on David Ignatius’s column in the Washington Post today. The story ran under the title “Obama’s Mideast Plan,” which Ignatius describes as “proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict.”
But the substance is clear: It is a threat against Israel by the Obama administration and particularly by National Security Advisor James Jones. (The give-away is this line: “The fact that Obama is weighing the peace plan marks his growing confidence in Jones.” Now who do you think was Ignatius’s source for that gem?) Apparently Obama and his team are frustrated by their inability to get Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a deal, and have therefore decided we’ll just impose one.
The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to get to the negotiating table is, in this administration, an iatrogenic disease: Our diplomatic doctors have caused it. The astonishing incompetence of Obama and special envoy George Mitchell has now twice blown up talks—direct talks last year, and proximity talks more recently—by making Israeli construction plans a major world crisis, thereby forcing Palestinian leaders to back away from engagement with the Israelis. So the administration will, in the fall, just do it the simpler way. Why bother with Israelis and Palestinians, in whom the president apparently does not have “growing confidence,” when you can just have your own brilliant team draw up the terms? As Ignatius’s sources, “two top administration officials,” tell him, “everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal.”
As a result of the June 1967 Six-Day War, Israel entered the eastern parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank in a war of self-defense. It is very important to recall that Israel entered these areas after it was attacked, and after it requested that the Jordanians not join the Egyptian war effort. There were Jordanian artillery attacks throughout Jerusalem and all of Israel, as well as movement of Jordanian ground forces into areas that were previously no-man’s land.
There is presently a marked shift underway in U.S. policy on Jerusalem. True, no U.S. administration accepted Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem in July 1967. Nonetheless, in the past we saw the U.S. and Israel coming to a modus vivendi with respect to Israeli policy in Jerusalem, when Israel built various neighborhoods in the eastern parts of the city, from Ramat Eshkol to Gilo to Ramot.
A neighborhood called Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem was established in 1997 during the Clinton administration to ease the considerable shortage of housing in the Jewish sector. On two occasions, the Arab bloc initiated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for constructing Har Homa. On both occasions, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, vetoed those resolutions under instructions from the Clinton administration.
The Oslo Agreements in 1993 do not require a freeze on construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Furthermore, under the Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem was treated as having a completely different status than the West Bank and the city was kept under Israeli control, while seen as an issue for permanent status negotiations in the future.
It is possible to discern a growing view, which has been reported in the Washington Post, that the Obama administration intends to put on the table its own plan for Middle East peace, based on a nearly full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, that most Israeli planners view as militarily indefensible. As the Palestinians see this scenario unfold, their incentive to re-enter negotiations will decline as they look forward to the prospect that an American peace plan will be imposed. If indeed there is such a plan being prepared, then the recent U.S.-Israel tensions over construction in east Jerusalem may only be Act I in a much longer drama that the two countries are about to face.
Palestinian civil society urges the peoples and governments of OECD member states to defer Israel’s OECD accession until it respects international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people and shows commitment to the fundamental values shared by OECD members.
Turkey works to grow economic ties, influence in Middle East
(By Janine Zacharia, The Washington Post)
Since Turkey and Syria eliminated border restrictions several months ago, the crowds of Syrians at the glittering Sanko Park Mall in this southeastern Turkish city have grown tenfold. Exports from Gaziantep to Syria are booming, and rich Turkish businessmen are stepping up th…
Arabs and Turks: Mending a broken relationship
MUSTAFA AKYOL, Friday, April 9, 2010
Turkey launched the Arabic version of its official TV last Sunday. Called “TRT Arabic,” the channel is expected to reach 350 million people throughout the Arab world. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who spoke at the opening ceremony, noted that it marked “a historic day for Turkish-Arab friendship,” initiating an era of “brotherhood, unity and solidarity” between the two peoples.
I share Erdoğan’s wishes on this. I also think that we Turks and Arabs need to do a little bit of historical revision to get rid of some of the artificial walls built between us in the past century.
On our side, these walls were built mainly by the nationalist ideology of the Turkish Republic. From the late 1920s on, the latter’s propaganda machine created two popular myths, by which many Turks were brainwashed.
The first of these was that the Arabs “stabbed us in the back” during World War I……
The second, and the more untrue, modern Turkish myth was that “Arabization” had been a historic misfortune for the nation. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the great patron of this thesis, asserted that Turks were “a great nation before Islam,” and now was the time to discover “the lost civilized traits of the Turk.” Hence came the extensive republican effort to revitalize (and actually invent) the glorious history of the ancient “Turkish stock.”
The historical truth, however, was the exact opposite. The pre-Islamic Turks of Central Asia were a warlike nomadic people with very little trace of cultural sophistication. But the Arabo-Islamic civilization of the medieval age was, in the words of Bernard Lewis, “the richest, most powerful, most creative, most enlightened [civilization] in the world.” That’s why the “Arabization” of the Turks, i.e., their gradual conversion to Islam from the mid ninth century onwards, was actually an enlightenment for them. It is no accident that all famed Turkish scholars, scientists, poets or thinkers are from the Islamic age, and not the pre-Islamic one.
“……………”Let me put it straightforward,” Medvedev said of his discussions with Obama at the meeting at Prague Castle. “I have outlined our limits for such sanctions.”
Officials from both countries said later that Medvedev privately offered a broad range of objections to sanctions, including actions that would create economic hardship for Iran, foment financial chaos or lead to regime change.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, told reporters in Prague that Medvedev and Obama discussed sanctions that would be “targeted, tailored.” Ryabkov said, for example, that a total embargo on deliveries of refined oil would “mean a slap, a blow, a huge shock for the whole society.”
Top White House officials who participated in the closed-door meeting said Medvedev described for Obama the “redlines” that Russia could not cross. They declined to elaborate on those objections, but said that sanctions on Iran’s energy sector are “not off the table.”…….”
Syria to increase industrial contribution to GDP by 20 percent
DAMASCUS, April 8 (Xinhua) — Syrian top economic official Abdullah al-Dardari declared on Thursday that the Syrian government is to increase industrial investment with the aim of raising industry contribution to the Gross Domestic Production ( GDP) by 20 percent, the official ANA news agency reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Al-Dardari, who is the key member in the government to support market reform in Syrian government, made the remarks on Thursday during a meeting at the Directorate of the Industrial City of Adra, 30 kilometers from Damascus.
He highlighted the importance of industry in supporting national economy and creating job opportunities, pledging the government’s commitment to provide legal and financial assistance to make industrial cities into natural centers for inventors, entrepreneurs and investors, the report said.
He also stressed the need to promote national industrial strategy which guarantees the competitiveness of Syrian products to access foreign markets.
The Syrian government is to establish 20 new industrial city projects to meet the industrial requirements and to attract international investors.
Military trial of 79-year-old Syrian lawyer begins
Thu, Apr 8 2010By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
DAMASCUS (Reuters) – A 79-year-old Syrian lawyer went on trial in a military court Thursday charged with “weakening national morale,” despite international appeals to release him.
The authorities arrested Haitham al-Maleh in October after he criticized the ruling Baath Party and the state of emergency it imposed after taking power in a 1963 coup. He has also called for greater government efforts to curb corruption.
“He looked obviously ill and tired,” Maleh’s lawyer Khalil Maatouk told Reuters. Maleh declined to enter a plea, saying he was not allowed to meet privately with his lawyers, according to a transcript they provided of the session. The judge then ordered that a letter be sent by the court to Adra prison where Maleh is being held to allow him to see his lawyers without any security present, Maatouk said.
“The judge let Haitham see his wife afterwards. They both cried,” another human rights lawyer said. Corrado de Martini, president of the International Lawyers Union, last week told a conference in Damascus that holding Maleh showed disregard for his pursuit of justice and for his ailing health.
Maleh already spent six years as a political prisoner during the rule of late President Hafez al-Assad in the 1980s. Martini was also critical of the arrest and disbarment of Mohannad al-Hassani, another lawyer facing a similar charge to Maleh. The government usually lodges the “weakening national morale” charge against its opponents.
The United States and European Union have raised Maleh’s case with Damascus, although at the same time they are seeking closer ties with Syria and pushing for a resumption of peace talks between Syria and Israel. Human Rights Watch said this month the West’s rehabilitation of Syria had undermined prospects for political arrests to stop. Syrian authorities have stepped up arrests of politicians and independent figures calling for democracy.
A former judge, Maleh was awarded the Dutch Geuzen Medal in 2006 for his human rights work. Syrian officials say Maleh is being tried fairly according to the constitution and that the West, which supports Israel, has no right to criticize Syria’s human rights record. They say Western governments focus on cases such as that of Maleh but ignore Syria’s efforts to combat militant Islamists who could pose an international terrorism threat.
After Arrests, Syrian Jews Slowly Adopt Charitable Reforms
By Josh Nathan-Kazis
An effort by Brooklyn’s Sephardic community to reform its charities is making modest headway eight months after three prominent community rabbis were arrested on suspicion of money laundering via their personal charity funds.
Ports, new service from Venice to Syria and Egypt Within the European project of the motorways of the sea, on May 20 the first maritime service will start that will connect Venice with Syria and Egypt, operated by Visemar Line. This is the first …
Syria System pushing other Arab countries for more control on media