When he was prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin never missed an opportunity to explain how important it was to end the Arab-Israeli conflict before Iran obtained nuclear arms. He argued that peace would help bring the international community on board in the fight against the Iranian bomb. Rabin believed that ending the occupation and peace agreements with Syria and Lebanon would isolate Iran and help rein in Hamas and Hezbollah.
According to spokespeople for Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister believes that dealing determinedly with Iran's nuclear program and its terror activities takes precedence over renewing talks with the Palestinians. From his point of view, the Saudi peace initiative, which has been waiting for seven years for an Israeli buyer, can continue to wait patiently until diplomatic pressure or military might overpowers the ayatollahs' regime.
The Obama administration has already proposed direct dialogue with Tehran. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said over the weekend that if the Obama administration changes its approach to Iran and translates its words into deeds, his government might also change its position. It may be assumed he meant changes in the U.S. position on the Israeli occupation, among other things. Not that the Palestinians' fate and the future of the Golan Heights causes the Iranians to lose any sleep, but why give up such available and effective ammunition?
The following is an imaginary conversation between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Iranian counterpart after Barack Obama sends her to Iran the day after meeting with Netanyahu:
Clinton: "First of all, let's agree that we all have to respect United Nations resolutions."
Mottaki: "Did I hear correctly? Did you say 'we all'? You must be familiar with Security Council Resolution 1397, which your president, George W. Bush, initiated seven years ago. It says there that the United Nations confirms the two-state vision - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace. The resolution calls on the two sides to implement the Tenet Plan and Mitchell Report. By the way, do you have any news on Ariel Sharon's commitment six years ago to dismantle illegal outposts? Maybe you know what happened to the report by that lady from the Israeli state prosecutor's office, the one who wrote that most of the outposts are on private Palestinian land. I checked in Israel's annual statistical report and found that since Oslo, the number of settlers has grown from 110,000 to 280,000. That's without counting what they call 'new neighborhoods' in East Jerusalem."
Clinton: "It would be much easier for us to deal with all of that if you would obey the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."
Mottaki: "Why do you pick on us and ignore Israel's refusal to sign the treaty? We both know what the Jews are cultivating in Dimona. Excuse me, I forgot to say 'according to foreign sources.'"
Clinton: "But the Israelis are not threatening to wipe Iran off the face of the earth. And while we're at it, maybe you can suggest to your president to stop denying the Holocaust?"
Mottaki: "When you meet our counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, ask him how the Aswan Dam is doing, and which Arab leader he plans to send to hell next. Meanwhile, we're talking about war and the Israelis are making war. Even Bush, their great friend, believed that the attacks on the civilian population in Lebanon and Gaza had gone too far. What happened to the Saudi peace initiative that offered them normalization in exchange for territory? Since it was launched in 2002, our friend Bashar Assad has voted every year to renew it, and the Israelis have not even brought it to their cabinet for discussion.
"As for Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust, I heard that Prof. Hannah Yablonka said the comparison Lieberman makes between Arab MKs and Nazi collaborators who were executed after the Nuremberg trials cheapens the Holocaust. A renowned Israeli Holocaust historian suggested that we not take seriously every foolish thing a stupid politician says."
The above is not intended to defend Iran. It shows something about the close relationship between regional security, in its widest context, and regional peace. And its full price.
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