In May 2009, the US Administration intends to roll Israel back to the 1949 Lines, including the repartitioning of Jerusalem. In order to pressure Israel, the Administration contends an ostensible linkage between the stop-Iran-campaign and the Palestinian issue. Just like its 1949 predecessor, the 2009 linkage aims at misrepresenting Israel as a peace obstructionist, which harms US national security.
Would Prime Minister Netanyahu retreat in face of psychological pressure, or would he fend off the pressure, reassuring the US public and Congress that such a linkage is indeed artificial?
The attempt to link the battle against megalomaniac Iran and the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is detached from Middle East reality. It plays into the hands of Iran, exacerbates Arab radicalism, undermines critical US national security interests and causes a setback to peace.
Iran's megalomania and its drive to obtain nuclear capabilities are a derivative of its 1,400 year old goal to dominate the Persian Gulf and the Muslim World. The pursuit of such a goal is shaped by domestic and Gulf realities, Iran's rivalry against Iraq and Saudi Arabia, US military involvement in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean and the Putin Cloud hovering above the region. Iran's nuclear ethos has not been driven by the Palestinian issue or the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is independent of Israel's policy and existence.
The US Administration-devised linkage reinvents the Middle East, transforming a 100 year old (Arab-Israel) conflict into the alleged root cause of the 1,400 year old Middle East turbulence. Is there a logical linkage between a potential Iranian takeover of Bahrain and "apostate Saudi Arabia" on one hand, and the future of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria on the other hand?! Why not a linkage between an end to Iran's subversion of Iraq and an end to IDF counter-terrorism operations in Judea and Samaria?!
Or how about a stretched-linkage between the prevention of al-Qaeda takeover of Pakistan's nuclear capabilities and a total Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria?! And, what about the grand-linkage between an end to Sunni-Shiite rift, Sudan's civil war, Lebanon's internal rifts on one hand, and the repartitioning of Jerusalem on the other hand?!
Adding fuel to fire of terrorism
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, claims that a linkage exists, because the Palestinian issue is ostensibly the Arab crown-jewel. Therefore, an Israeli giveaway of Judea and Samaria would, supposedly, appease the Arabs, which would facilitate a broad anti-Iran coalition.
However, Arab states have refrained from assisting Palestinians during the 2008 Gaza War, the first and second Intifada and the 1982 Israel-PLO War in Lebanon. They do not shed blood or substantial resources on behalf of Palestinians, but shower Palestinians with rhetoric. Since the 1950s, they have considered Fatah, PLO and Hamas role-models of inter-Arab subversion and back-stabbing, which must be repressed and not advanced. No Arab-Israel war has ever been caused by – or fought on behalf of - the Palestinians.
Hence, Gaza, Judea and Samaria were not transferred, by Egypt and Jordan, to the Palestinians following the 1948-9 War. Moreover, Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan were concluded by bypassing the Palestinian issue, in spite of Palestinian threats and despite Israel's war on PLO and Hamas terrorism. Does Rahm Emanuel assume that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai and Oman – which consider Iran a clear and present lethal threat – would oppose the removal of the Iranian machete from their throats, as long as there are Jewish communities in Samaria?! Hasn't Emanuel learnt from the 1991 Gulf War that Arab members of a coalition do not produce a meaningful added-value?!
The linkage concept advances Iran's fortunes. It makes the anti-Iran campaign a hostage in the hands of Palestinian terrorists, diverts some of the criticism away from Iran, provides Tehran with additional time to develop nuclear capabilities and enhances Iran's domestic and regional legitimacy.
The linkage concept creates an unwarranted US-Israel tension, thus adrenalizing the veins of Arab radicals and Palestinian terrorists, erodes Israel's posture of deterrence, pours cold water on the prospects of peace and adds fuel to the fire of terrorism, dealing a blow to vital US and Israeli interests.
Yoram Ettinger is an expert of Middle Eastern and American affairs