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October 4, 2018 1:03 pm

Iran Must Be Priority Number One

avatar by Eyal Zisser / Israel Hayom / JNS.org

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An aerial photo released by the Israeli Defense Forces on May 11, 2018, showing Iranian intelligence sites in Syria. Photo: IDF Spokesperson.

JNS.org – For a moment, it seemed that the Israeli-Palestinian ‎conflict would dominate the UN General Assembly, as ‎well as the international agenda for the coming ‎year. But then came the addresses of Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which sought ‎to focus world leaders’ attention on the Iranian ‎issue. ‎

Trump made it clear that his administration plans to ‎focus on Iran (just as he promised to focus on North Korea last year). ‎Meeting with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN ‎General Assembly, Trump surprised many by officially ‎endorsing the two-state solution — then by ‎qualifying that, and saying that he’ll support whatever the parties agree to. He also announced that the ‎administration plans to roll out the much-‎anticipated “deal of the century” within a few ‎months. ‎

Trump may still strive to pitch a deal ‎meant to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but chances of that are slim, for several ‎reasons. ‎

First, in reality, we are no longer dealing with a ‎two-state solution, but rather with a three-state ‎solution — namely, Israel, a Palestinian state in the ‎West Bank, and a Hamas state in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is not going anywhere, and it is doubtful that its ‎leaders would agree to reconcile with the Fatah-led ‎Palestinian Authority just to facilitate Trump’s ‎‎“deal of the century.” Second, despite rhetoric to the contrary, Arab ‎leaders have no real intention of going over ‎the head of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas ‎and accepting a deal on the Palestinians’ behalf. ‎This leads to the third reason: The Palestinian ‎leadership simply cannot make the necessary historic ‎decisions for peace.

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Abbas can protest that “Jerusalem is not ‎for sale” as much as he wants, but the bottom line ‎is that Trump is right — there is no reason why the ‎United States should give the Palestinian Authority hundreds ‎of millions of dollars in aid only to be ‎disrespected on the world stage — at least as much ‎as Abbas respects Russian President Vladimir Putin, ‎who has never given the Palestinians a dime.

The problems with an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal are why Trump and Netanyahu both chose to focus ‎on Iran at the UN General Assembly. ‎

Netanyahu’s speech again showcased Israel’s ‎intelligence and operational prowess, which time and ‎again highlighted Iran and Hezbollah’s malicious activities. Trump’s speech reiterated the US pledge to ‎prevent Iran from going nuclear, and to stop it from ‎disseminating terrorism and chaos in the Persian ‎Gulf and Middle East.‎

Failing to come up with a good answer to the ‎allegations made against Iran at the General ‎Assembly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad ‎Zarif resorted to familiar rhetoric, saying that ‎the Holocaust did not justify the establishment of the ‎State of Israel on Palestinian land. ‎

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, for his part, ‎opted for a more “elegant” suggestion, saying, “We ‎do not wish to fight or destroy or throw anyone into ‎the ocean. We call on the Israelis, in the most ‎civilized way possible, to board planes or ships and ‎return to the countries from where they came. ‎Only the Jews who lived in Palestine before [the ‎Balfour Declaration] will be able to stay here. The ‎rest, those who came from all over the world, have ‎to leave.”

These statements are another good reason why Iran and ‎its allies must be stopped. European leaders would ‎be wise to pay attention to Tehran’s statements before rushing to appease ‎Iran.‎

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

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