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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Obama to admit that stopping Iran is more important than the 'Palestinians'?

Writing in Friday's Haaretz, Aluf Benn argues that even President Obama now recognizes that stopping Iran takes precedence over creating a 'Palestinian' state reichlet.

But Obama's declaration will have immediate strategic importance. By presenting a two-year timetable for the peace agreements, the president will make it clear that dealing with Iran is more urgent than establishing an independent Palestine alongside Israel.

That will be a major diplomatic achievement for Netanyahu. In his visit to the White House in May, the prime minister's main aim was to persuade Obama of "Iran first and the Palestinians afterward." It was convenient at the time for Obama to present a disagreement with Netanyahu in order to strengthen U.S. credibility in the Arab world. One hundred days later, it turns out that on the crucial issue - setting the foreign affairs agenda - Netanyahu's view prevailed.

Next year, 2010, will be the "year of Iran." The Palestinians will have to wait their turn and pass the time in empty talks until Iran is restrained. Under the quid pro quo principle, in return for advancing action on Iran, Netanyahu agreed to freeze construction in the West Bank settlements for a period of nine months, according to leaks from his talks with U.S. envoy George Mitchell.
I question whether Benn is correct. First, it's not at all clear that Obama will do anything about Iran. He still has not gone beyond talking about sanctions. Second, given the number of troops that the United States has committed to Afghanistan and that it cannot withdraw from Iraq, is there anything Obama can do about Iran aside from let Israel attack and offer cover (not that I even expect him to do that)? Third, I question whether Obama has really place the 'Palestinians' in a lower priority position. If there are going to be real negotiations, as opposed to the US imposing the 'Palestinians' terms, it's going to take more than a year. And Obama knows that if he insists on imposing terms, Netanyahu just might not show up.

Benn gives Netanyahu a lot of credit for turning the tables on Obama. I don't believe he's given Netanyahu enough credit.


At 7:54 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama is not likely to admit Iran needs to be stopped. He acts as though he has all the time in the world. The one thing Israel doesn't have is the luxury of time.



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