Iran Must Be Priority Number One
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.
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.