Israel and Iran: Facts on the Ground
Date 2009/5/11 12:20:00
Paris, May 7, 2009 – Israel has always believed in “creating facts
on the ground” whose existence may later come as an unpleasant
surprise to others. Iran now seems to have learned from this Israeli
precedent, to Israel’s disadvantage.
In diplomatic circles, in Europe as well as the Arab states, there
has been discussion of the possibility of Iran being designated a
“civil nuclear power” exercising its right, under the
Nonproliferation Treaty (which it has signed), to develop power for
This is what Iran has persistently claimed is all it wants. The
proposal goes on to say that whatever military work Iran has done is
already faits accomplis – “created facts,” that are useless to contest.
The proposal is that if the U.S. were to join Europe and the Sunni
Arabs in a drive to push Israel –- which has plenty of concealed
nuclear “facts” -- to join the Non-Proliferation pact, which it has
always refused to do, and open up to inspectors, just as Iran has
done, the Iran-Israel discussion could at least be switched onto a
The foreign policy position of Israel under the Benjamin Netanyahu
government remains officially unknown. It undoubtedly will not be
clarified until the new Israeli prime minister visits the United
States to meet President Barack Obama.
The atmosphere is chilly, the unction of Shimon Peres during his
American visit notwithstanding, because of the less than enthusiastic
welcome the Obama administration gave the America-Israel Public
Affairs Committee convention last week. Vice President Joe Biden
attended, and Rahm Emanuel was the star of a fund-raising reception. But both stuck to the U.S. position that there must be a two-state
solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not there, and has been
rumored to be fighting on Israel’s side in a conflict with National
Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones, whose insistence on the two-
states agreement is seen by the Israelis as a threat. They want to
throw out all previous agreements with the Palestinians, the Quartet
and the U.S., and start negotiations all over.
Israel has set two conditions for new talks, both conflicting with
U.S. policy. The first is Iran’s effective nuclear disarmament,
which is impossible because of those Iranian facts on the ground, and
because the U.S. has set itself against military action.
The second demand is also made for propaganda purposes, and
is of transparent bad faith. It is that Israel be “recognized as a
Jewish state” by all its interlocutors. This is impossible because
Israel refuses to describe what “Israel” is to be recognized. The
1948 state recognized by the UN? Israel within the 1967 armistice
borders (long ago violated by colonies and annexation of Palestinian
lands). Or an Israel with frontiers yet to be defined -- since
annexation and colonization continues today?
This comes at a moment when Israel’s Jewish population actually is
falling through emigration. Israel already is internationally
recognized within its legal borders. Everyone knows that it is a
But the demand to recognize it as such is meant to exclude the Arab
citizens of Israel, who were there long before there was an Israel.
Netanyahu’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has already
demanded that they be forced to take a loyalty oath (or be expelled).
The demand is also meant to foreclose Palestinian claims on
illegally seized property in 1948 or after, and most important, to
close off any Palestinian “right to return” (or recompense).
This position is not meant to be taken seriously. It is propaganda
to impress foreign public opinion and Jews living in Europe and
America: “You see, the Arabs won’t even recognize us as a Jewish
The demand that the threat of Iran be eliminated before Israel
negotiates on Palestine replays a well-worn record. The issue could
still be considered live a year ago when Israel sought American
permission (and assistance) in an attack on Iran. That was rejected
by President George W. Bush, probably to greater surprise in
Jerusalem than in Washington, where the political class has no desire
for still another war sure to involve the United States.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will probably tell President Obama that he will
be happy to negotiate but only on conditions that cannot be met,
including total suppression of Hamas, denial of a sovereign
Palestine state in full control of its territory, and without
removing established Israeli colonies, or Israeli air and water rights.
Since none of this can be taken seriously, the great question is
what response Barack Obama will give. That will reveal to the world
whether there will or will not be more war in the Middle East.
© Copyright 2009 by Tribune Media Services International. All Rights
This article comes from William PFAFF
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