Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Secret contacts

Because of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, it has been rumored that some Arab countries are communicating secretly with Israel. Their rationale is that if the Palestinians can talk to Israel, they can too. After all they need not be more kosher than the Pope (to use a mixed metaphor) and in any case most of them only pay lip-service to the Palestinians.

They have bigger fish to fry (or lambs to roast), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait are all very concerned about the growth of Iranian power and fear a nuclear-armed Iran as much as Israel. The Shia-Sunni split is older and deeper than the Israel-Arab split and given the relative weakness and lack of resolve shown by Pres. Obama, they feel they cannot rely on the USA to protect them at this time. They realize that Israel is the only potential power that can deal with Iran, and they are secretly cozying up to Israel. Out of this might come a secret agreement to cooperate if Israel decides to "go it alone" and attack the Iranian nuclear sites. Such an undeclared agreement might include fly-over rights for Israeli planes and other unspecified support for Israel's action, such as not joining a UN vote sanctioning Israel for such a strike.

An informal Sunni-Israel alliance might in the not-too-distant future result in the recognition of Israel by some of these Arab countries, whose connection to the Palestinians is remote, but whose economies and geography lead them to fear Iranian hegemony and who feel less threatened by Israel than the proximal Arab countries, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. This might not require a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but might be a good reason for Israel to keep the negotiations with the PA trickling along.

In this respect, the Israeli Minister in charge of the negotiations with the Palestine Authority, Justice Minister Tzipy Livni, this week clarifed the Israeli position and declared that she is intent on negotiating a full end-of-conflict agreement and not an interim agreement that would leave major issues unresolved. This statement was made to dispute a contrary statement issued from the office of Pres Abbas of the PA that accused Israel of only trying to negotiate certain issues in an interim agreement and not a full resolution of the conflcit that he is seeking. Also, the idea that such a comprehensive agreement can be arrived at in 6 months after a 100 years of the conflict is relatively naieve.

It has always been my position that in order to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict, first the Iranians have to be dealt with, either diplomatically or militarily, and then the Arab States must make peace with Israel and only then will the Palestinians be forced to accept the existence of Israel as the Jewish State. We'll see what comes first, the chicken or the turkey.


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