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The Annapolis-Tehran Nexus

The Annapolis-Tehran Nexus

The upcoming Israeli-Palestinian summit is designed to build a coalition of moderates.


If bookmakers took bets on such things as the chances of moving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward in the upcoming Annapolis conference, those odds would have surely taken a turn for the worse this week.

There's the widening gap between Israeli and Palestinian expectations. There's the growing skepticism and discontent in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government -- not just within the right-wing Shas and Israel Beiteinu factions, but even in his own Kadima party and its ostensibly more dovish junior partner, Labor.

There's the increased tension on the Palestinian side among members of their negotiating team, and the attempts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to maintain some kind of relationship with a Hamas that absolutely rejects the goals of Annapolis.

And there's the disclosure that a recent joint report by Military Intelligence, the Mossad and the Shin Bet Security Agency predicts that "even if understandings are reached in Annapolis, the chance of implementing them in the field is almost zero," because Abbas and the PA are too weak to do so even in the West Bank, let alone in a Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Fake Wedding

So why Annapolis, and why now, as Olmert asked on Monday in his speech to the Saban Forum? As the week went on, though, some plausible answers to those questions -- at least more convincing than those the prime minister had offered -- became apparent. And not all of them -- in fact, few of them -- relate to the Annapolis agenda.

Among those who have been puzzled by the real purpose being served by Annapolis is New York Times columnist David Brooks, the paper's token conservative pundit and Bush administration supporter. "What is Condi doing?," he wrote earlier this week, while visiting Jerusalem: Specifically, "Why is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spending her remaining time in office banging her head against the Israeli-Palestinian problem?"

Annapolis is trying to bring together members of an anti-Iran coalition.

The answer, Brooks concludes, pure and simple, is Iran. It's about building the so-called "coalition of the moderates" against Tehran, and doing it around an event focused on an issue they supposedly all agree about, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Whether Annapolis actually succeeds in helping bring that about -- and Brooks suggests that even Rice doesn't necessarily think it will -- is less important than its appeal as an attraction to bring together the potential members of an anti-Iran coalition. Or as he puts it, "It's like having a wedding without a couple, because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose."

He may well be right about that, at least from Washington's perspective. Countering Iranian influence in the region, including in Iraq, where US troops are trying to hold the country together, is surely the major impetus now driving the Bush administration on the Israeli-Palestinian front.

It could very well be that Jerusalem is motivated by the same thinking. Indeed, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that Israel can focus on countering the growing threat posed by an increasingly powerful Iran has been a general strategic principle going all the way back to the Oslo Accords. But never before has it seemed more urgent.

Nuclear Iran

Brooks sees Annapolis as a spark for "the creation of a containment policy across the Middle East," and worries that "the whole thing could backfire and leave the anti-Iranian cause in worse shape than ever."

That's possible -- but I seriously doubt that concern is causing too many sleepless nights in Jerusalem, or that decision-makers here share his (or Rice's) faith that Tehran's nuclear ambitions are going to be countered by a coalition between Israel and the likes of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Israel's security establishment made clear this week -- as did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- that it sees Tehran's nuclear program developing at a faster rate than intelligence assessments being made elsewhere in the world. A long-term grand plan for containment may no longer be quick or forceful enough to stop it.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's soft-gloves approach to Iran is unprecedented.

That urgency was reflected in the dramatic escalation of comments regarding the Iranian program being heard from Israeli leaders this week. The personal criticism by Olmert and the Foreign Ministry of International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed El-Baradei for his soft-gloves approach to Tehran was unprecedented. So was Defense Minister Ehud Barak's comment on Wednesday in Beersheba explicitly stating that military action against Iran's nuclear facilities is now an option that must be considered.

These statements are in part a reaction to events on the ground in Iran, especially at its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. But surely there was some sober calculation involved in deciding that if Jerusalem is going to crank up its Iran rhetoric a few notches, a good time to do so is when the Olmert government is demonstrating to the international community our willingness to try and make peace with the Palestinians in Annapolis.

The same principle applies regarding preparations for a major IDF invasion in Gaza -- not just to temporarily stop the firing of Kassam rockets, but to deter what looks more and more like another beach-head of the Iranian and global Islamic extremist forces directly on our borders.

This isn't to say that Israel is cynically going to Annapolis simply as cover for military actions it may have to take in the near future. The conference is not, as Brooks would have, simply a wedding being held on false pretenses for other purposes; the Olmert government is sincere about trying to move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward.

But calculations involving Iran most certainly factor in as Jerusalem shows a willingness to boldly move ahead on the West Bank/Palestinian front -- as it prepares itself for a post-Annapolis period that, on the Iranian and Gaza fronts, will certainly be no honeymoon.

Reprinted from the Jerusalem Post.

November 10, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Joel K, November 13, 2007 12:08 PM

Been there, and then some?

This Annapolis conference is a repeat of the darker side of Jewish history. Repeatedly over at least a thousand years, non-Jews and many of their Jewish accomplices have used Jews for political, economic, and financial gain.

Futhermore, when many non-Jews have managed to create a problem, or needed a bail-out from difficulty, they turned to the Jew for a quick fix, depriving the Jew of life, liberty and property (one all all of these).

I have no quarrel with the possibility that this Annapolis conference is a means to deal with festering IslamoNazis problem (Iran, etc.). But, there would be no need to hold out Israel as a sacrafice to Allah's mongrel hordes, if the U.S. State Dept, Bush, the Quartet, post Olso, Sharon and now Olmert had not pandered to the Arabs with concessions that were often bizzare, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the political elites, many whom could be considered anti-Semitic, and their court jesters, like Olmert and Sharon, made a terrible mess pandering to the Arab/IslamoNazis world over the past 60 or so years. And, now these political elites and "diplomats", scratching their and sweating from cowardice, are doing what they always have done-- USE THE JEW'S LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY as a fix for the mess they created.

The diplomacy of "Peace Now", concessions, and waiting for miracles, has fueled the fire of IslamoNazism, not quelled it or made a more peaceful world.

What might our world look like, had the Allies pandered to Hitler and the Japanese, the way our elites do to the Arabs/IslamoNazis? More than likely, we would all speaking German/Japanese or been a lamp shade.

Chamberlain of England and other Europeans gave Hitler a piece of land that he claimed was Germany for peace, but we got was a Blitzkreig and World War II. More recently, our elites that have learned nothing from history have done a Chamberlain and what we have got is a stronger and more defiant IslamoNazis movement on the march to becoming nuclear.

Israel and the Jews are not the problem, the problem is pandering and conceding to evil (IslamoNazism). The world of Islam takes note of this and gains strength from it.

Diplomacy did not make a peaceful Germany or Japan. There is a time for peace and time for war, and now is not the time for holding out Israel as peace offering to the Hitler's of our time, regardless of the reasons-- building "moderate" coalitions or ?

(2) Anonymous, November 11, 2007 10:55 PM

You Will Be The Loser In The End

Doesn't anyone know G-D anymore. He wrote in a book to warn all of you not to divide Jerusalem eons ago. Here we are at the stated time and on you go into foolishness. You will lose in the end and be stabbed in the back and the USA will be destroyed, Babylon the Great(USA)will fall, will fall, then who will you trust in?

(1) Barry E Lerner, November 11, 2007 7:46 PM

Annapolis conference

Why is it that all speculation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has that fairy tale, wishful thinking air about it, and conference after meeting after conference resembles what in football would be called a "Hail-Mary" play? Nothing substantive will come out of Annapolis; nothing can possibly come out of it, and as usual, Israel will be blamed for "intransigence" or whatever.

Why then attend such a conference? It is true that Olmert is not the brightest light on the porch, but chances are he is simply doing what Washington asks. But would it not have been better to announce plainly, in rejecting this meeting, that no more meetings will be held until the Arabs fulfill some of their prior committments, since to negotiate with people who disregard their solemn promises is fruitless. This would have the effect of putting them on the defensive. And it would save on plane fare.

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