President Obama met Prime Minister Netanyahu amidst much hype by media sources attempting to read, behind niceties, new “red lines” for military operations against Iran. The meeting between the two leaders however has been of very little importance, certainly not in the context of drawing any red lines or time table for military operations. The meeting should be viewed in the context of internal politics only, between two politicians seeking to make political gains in their respective local arenas. The US president desiring to clinch Democrats long hold on hearts and minds of Jewish voters and to address increasing intransigence among Republican candidates towards Iran, and the Israeli prime minister seeking to better weigh his options for early elections in israel, in light of possible adverse impact on his favorable hold on power as a result of Obama`s reelection. Unlike the Shakespearean famous play, the villain`s (Iran) fate was not determined in the show of recent meeting.
Iran policy both in America and in Israel has been a failure. America`s traditional aversion towards totalitarian regimes is understandable, but America has also been known for pragmatism when it comes to countries like China, Saudi Arabia (and Russia in the past) where global interests preponderate “regime change” affinity. Similarly, Israel has shown pragmatism in supplying Iran ammunition during its war against Iraq (Iran – Contra affair) but failed to follow up on and reap the fruits of its assistance to the Mullahs in a crucial time in their history.
Iran nuclear capacity is clearly beyond Israel reach and means. Israel does not have the power to eradicate Iran`s nuclear capabilities, actual or potential, and should not have, ever, assumed a leading role in confronting nuclear Iran. Israel`s more natural way in disentangling the Iranian threat should have been by way of advancing Palestinian dialogue rather than freezing negotiations pending the so called resolution of Iranian threat. If Palestinian issue is heading towards resolution Iran is not a threat. It is Netanyahu`s greatest miscalculation to put Iran at his top foreign policy priorities thereby evading the difficult, but the not less heavy weight subject, of tackling Palestinian issue. Talking to Palestinians is by all means complicated from Netanyahu`s internal political standpoint; it requires compromising old ideology and challenging diehards within his own party. Bashing Iran gets one easy political points; adherence to one`s “two state solution” requires true leadership and courage. There is much cynicism in going for Iran first at the cost of ignoring Palestinian dispute. Mr. Netanyahu is playing with fire. American and other world leaders are certainly aware of same.
Netanyahu camp boasts of his political success in brushing aside the Palestinian issue. In terms of local, Israeli, politics his camp may be right. In today`s US politics and for the next half year or so, his camp may be correct as well. Politicians in the US will not raise Israel-Palestinian negotiations as an issue in the elections, but time of reckoning is nearing. Iran has been made a major foe and Israel and Iran are head to head on a collision course. Palestinian relations could any minute further deteriorate and the potentially explosive atmosphere could turn into an inferno. No one can predict the outcome of the Iranian crisis, but we can certainly say that Israel, under Netanyahu`s leadership is entering a very dangerous period when his world standing remains at its lowest.