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Yoram Ettinger Photo: Gabi Menashe
Yoram Ettinger Photo: Gabi Menashe
 
 

Refuting the ‘Linkage Theory’

Linking anti-Iran efforts to Palestinian issue radicalizes Arab expectations

Yoram Ettinger
Published: 04.15.10, 10:20 / Israel Opinion

In the wake of the Washington Nuclear Summit, it is incumbent upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to refute the notion that a linkage exists, supposedly, between the campaign to deny Iran nuclear capabilities on one hand and the Palestinian issue on the other hand.

 

Some Israeli politicians and commentators accord legitimacy to the “Linkage Theory.” They contend that further Israeli concessions on the Palestinian front would facilitate President Obama’s efforts to establish an anti-Iran coalition and to toughen his policy on Iran.

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President Obama’s advisors promote the linkage/conditionality between progress on the Iranian and the Palestinian fronts. They consider such a linkage – and the April 12, 2010 Nuclear Summit – effective instruments to intensify psychological pressure on Netanyahu to depart sharply from his world view and to be transformed into a locomotive of Palestinian aspirations.

 

However, the “Linkage Theory” is detached from the Middle East context, plays into Iran’s hands, radicalizes Arab expectations, policy and terrorism, undermines US national security concerns and erodes the prospects of peace.

 

The idea that Israel’s policy-making could transform the cohesive worldview of President Obama inflates dramatically the significance of Israel and the Palestinian issue. It undermines the depth of Obama’s ideological conviction. Thus, no additional Israeli concession would change Obama’s position on Iran from engagement to confrontation. No extra Israeli gesture would change Obama’s position that the US is a power-in-retreat, devoid of moral, economic and military exceptionalism, adopting multilateral and not unilateral initiatives.

 

Even a Meretz-led Israeli government would not stir Obama and his advisors away from their conviction that “Islam has always been part of America’s story,” that there is no global Islamic terrorism, that "Jihad means to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal," that terrorism is a challenge for law enforcement authorities more than for the military and that Mary Robinson – who led the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-US 2001 “Durbin Conference” – is worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she received on August 12, 2009.

 

Even a Kadima-led Israeli government could not budge Obama and his advisors from their assessments that Israel does not constitute a unique ally (and possibly a burden), that the US has been too attentive to Israel and insufficiently sensitive to Arab concerns, that Israel is part of the ostensibly exploiting West and the Arabs belong to the supposedly exploited Third World, that Israel’s moral foundation is the Holocaust and not a 4,000 year history and that the prescription for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict includes a withdrawal to the 1949 ceasefire lines, repartitioning of Jerusalem, uprooting of Jewish communities in the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, partial return of the 1948 Arab refugees and exchange of land.

 

Iran’s mega-goal

Obama’s advisors claim that, supposedly, a linkage exists between the effort to prevent Iran’s nuclearization and the resolution of the Palestinian issue. They assume that, supposedly, the Palestinian issue is the strategic crown-jewel of the Arabs. They believe that, supposedly, there is a need to establish a coalition with Arab regimes in order to stop Iran. Therefore, they conclude that it is, supposedly, incumbent to advance the resolution of the Palestinian issue in order to get the Arabs on board of the anti-Iran coalition. Really?!

 

Iran’s nuclear drive aims at attaining a mega-goal, which has guided Iran since the 7th century - domination of the Persian Gulf. The role of nuclear capability would be to deter and harm mega-obstacles to the mega-goal: The USA and NATO, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The tenacious pursuit of their nuclear effort is independent of Israel – which is not an actor in the Persian Gulf arena – and of the Palestinian issue. Is it possible that a less than 100 year old (Arab-Israeli) conflict be a root cause of a 1,400 year old goal?

 

In order to demolish Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, the US does not require a coalition with Arab regimes, as was evidenced in the 1991 US-Iraq War. President Bush 41st invested many resources to establish such a coalition, but the Arab military forces did not contribute anything to the war effort. Saddam Hussein was not defeated by a diplomatic coalition, but by the US armed forces.

 

Moreover, the Arabs have demonstrated – as recently as the March 26, 2010 Arab League-organized “Jerusalem Conference” - that they do not consider the Palestinian issue a strategic crown jewel, but a low priority issue and a potential force of domestic subversion. A number of Arab leaders abstained, signaling that inter-Arab squabbles supersede Arab concern for Jerusalem and for the Palestinians.

 

The cold shoulder directed at Mahmoud Abbas, and the refusal by some to attend his speech, reflect the inferior role played by the Palestinian issue in Arab circles. Saudi, Kuwaiti and other Gulf leaders demonstrated that they neither forget nor forgive the PLO/PA’s systematic treachery, culminated by its key role in Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and plunder of Kuwait. In addition, they are aware that the “Linkage Theory” subordinates the battle against Iran – which constitutes a clear and present lethal danger - to the highly complicated long-term Palestinian issue.

 

The “Linkage Theory” – which aims at escalating psychological pressure on Israel – is detached from reality, subordinates the anti-Iran campaign to the volatile Palestinian issue, rewards Iran with additional time to develop its nuclear capabilities, enhances the domestic posture of Iran’s rogue regime and denies the Free World the preventive military option, while dooming the globe to experience the devastation of the retaliatory option.

 

Will Prime Minister Netanyahu advance the aforementioned messages, refuting the self-destruct “Linkage Theory,” or will he join the politically-correct “Linkage Choir,” in order to avoid a clash with President Obama? 

 

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