Bibi’s clever diplomacy against Iran

Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (Bibi) has just done what the Iranian Ayatollah and President cannot do. He has traveled to meet and speak with leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia. The leaders of these states and even those from other political parties in these states have agreed with Bibi that Iran is a threat, to the Middle East region, to Palestinian independence and to their own interests.

Bibi before leaving said “In the diplomatic sphere, I intend to emphasize the need for a common front against Iran’s defiant aggression, which has raised its head in recent days. This must be done on an ongoing basis, but especially in light of Iran’s defiance against the international order.”

Bibi was referring to Iran’s launching of missiles, ostensibly to test the technology.  However Iran in doing so acted against the spirit of the nuclear deal. Showing the world that Iran has the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead against not only Israel but all of its neighbors is not the best way of demonstrating that the nuclear program is for civil energy purposes only.

So naturally two of the world’s recognized nuclear powers, the United States and Britain, and their Anglo-Saxon world Australia ally agreed with Bibi that the nuclear agreement bothers not only Israel and not only them but many other countries in the region. There inference being that Iran is posing a regional and world threat.

Bibi was not successful in convincing former President Obama that the nuclear deal with Iran was a bad one. Not surprisingly because Obama reached the agreement. Now Bibi is emboldened by the inauguration of new US President Donald Trump, who has adopted a tough line against Iran and vows to “tear up” or try to renegotiate the nuclear deal.

So Bibi now has a sympathetic ear in Washington about the need to renew sanctions against Iran, sanctions against ballistic missiles and additional sanctions against terror, as well as dealing with the nuclear agreement

Testing of missiles and a nuclear program is not the only threat that Iran poses. Iran supports Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. These two pose the largest militant threat to Israel’s security and any future war would be with one or both.

Now Bibi has devised a devious diplomatic way to isolate Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah and bring the world’s powers and Arab Sunni nations to counter their threats to Israel’s security. Bibi has suggested to Trump that he convene the leaders of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN) and the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) in a summit meeting to announce a set of agreed principles that would serve as the terms of reference for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a two-state solution.

If this process commences then any Iranian proxy threat via Hamas and Hezbollah such as rocket attacks would be against the interests of the Quartet and the Arab Quartet. To be sure the very existence of Hamas and Hezbollah poses a threat to the decision of the 1974 Arab Summit when the PLO was declared as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

Bibi has deviously put the world powers and the Sunni world in a Catch-22 situation. It would now be in the interests of the Quartet and the Arab Quartet to act against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah if only to further Palestinian independence.

About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.
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