Middle East Analyst: Solution to Iran Issue is Israel-Palestine
Middle-East analyst Jerome Segal, who last June challenged Senator Ben Cardin in the Maryland Democratic Primary because of his vote against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and because of Cardin’s support for the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, argues that unresolved Palestine-Israel peace process is directy connected to the Iran crisis
By Jerome Segal
The world is riveted on the possibility of military conflict between the United States and Iran. At the same time, we are days away from the Bahrain Conference at which the Trump Administration will partially unveil its futile “Deal of the Century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The marginalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just at the time when US-Iranian relations are near the explosive point, is indicative of the failure to understand how deeply these two conflicts are related, and a failure to recognize that a deep reset in US-Iranian relations will require resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There is a tendency to think of Iran’s nuclear ambitions as an isolated issue, and as part of a general concern with nuclear proliferation. This misunderstands how and why Iran’s nuclear project came to be the ultimate American red-line.
We need to take note that:
- Iran’s nuclear ambitions did not begin with the regime of the Ayatollah’s. They began under the Shah, at a time of Israeli-Iranian cooperation.
- So long as it was the Shah’s regime, US opposition to Iran’s nuclear program was tepid. Indeed, there was serious consideration of allowing Iran access to US uranium enrichment technology.
- Were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, this would not be the advent of “The Islamic Bomb.” There already is a Muslim country with nuclear weapons. It is called Pakistan.
- The imperative to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons comes from the fact that nuclear deterrence between Iran and Israel is likely to fail and lead to nuclear war.
- The Trump Administration’s exit from Obama’s nuclear deal came at the behest of Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu, who, over the years, has openly advocated for a US attack on Iran.
Historically, Israel and Iran have been geo-strategic partners. This goes all the way back to Biblical times when it was the Persians (Iran) who freed the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity and enabled their return to Jerusalem. The Hebrew Bible story ends with the verses that tell of this very deliverance.
The current Israeli-Iranian conflict, which involves Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the Iranian presence in Syrian, is rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a cause that Iran uses both to sustain its legitimacy at home and to advance its influence throughout the Arab world. End that conflict, and the electricity of the Israeli-Iranian conflict will dissipate, as will the intensity of the US-Iranian conflict.
Instead of stepping up real efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Trump Administration has undermined the possibilities of a negotiated settlement by its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and most recently, by its, not-too-subtle, encouragement of Israeli unilateral annexation of the West Bank.
It is time for those challenging Mr. Trump for the Presidency to make the connections between the US-Iranian conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to set out a new path towards the resolution of both.
Dr. Jerome Segal is President of The Jewish Peace Lobby, and State Chairman of The Bread and Roses Party, www.BreadandRoses.US, of Maryland. He is a former Research Scholar at the University of Maryland Center for International and Security Studies, and the author of Negotiating Jerusalem (SUNY, 2000) Click here for details.
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