I have to laugh at the new linkage to get the Palestinians their own state, namely the idea that only if Israel offers that up will the moderate arab states unite against Iran and its nuclear program.
There is so much silliness about this that it actually makes sense. It will not work, but I get it.
First, linkage in general is not a real workable way of doing business. Kids do not eat their broccoli so they can get an Xbox. They get the Xbox anyways. They will eat their broccoli if they are hungry.
The US used to make it a point to link the USSR’s human rights to concessions on arms control. In fact, it was the modus operandi at every summit that the first item on the agenda was human rights, which lasted about 10 minutes. Then came round the clock arms negotiations. The linkage was a joke – the US never really pressed human rights until the USSR begged to be pressed. US Presidents wanted arms control for their own political benefit and out of a sense of decency to those in the gulag, they tried to link human rights. But the fact is that you can count on one set of hands the number of people released from the gulag. When the USSR wanted to collapse, it fell head over heels to allow jews to leave and close the gulag, something that it remarkably never did so long as there was this linkage. Israel will give the Palestinians a state on Israel’s own terms or when it is unavoidable. (Note to the Palestinians – if you want a state on the west bank, limit your terror to those areas because bombing discos in tel aviv is just not as cool as it seems on al jazeera – you bomb israeli settlements and you would have Jewish hollywood giving you funding for a reality show).
Second, linkage works when you have leverage. Sadam linked his retreat from Kuwait to Israel’s retreat from the territories. That demand got him so much street cred in the arab world that he could not have done better than if he thrown his shoes at the world trade center. His plan actually worked to some degree. Of course, Saddam got his ass kicked first, and then Israel had to start serious negotiations. But Saddam had something to give, namely, voluntarily getting his ass kicked and not using chemical weapons, and then Israel got the screws to it. Saddam got street cred as the only person to ever land a missile in tel aviv and an extra 10 years on the throne.
So, now, the moderate arabs, who realize the danger that a free Iraq bankrolled by the US poses to their monarchies, desperately want to be seen as sticking it to Israel. Only problem is that the arab armies could probably not take over a beachside cabana in eilat. Only hizbollah seems to have any ability against the Israelis and the 2006 war shut them down for a decade (they will be back, but do not let the western media fool you, the 2006 was a draw but the kill ratio was very much in Israel’s favor and Hizbollah won’t engage in another adventure under present leadership).
But, the arabs know that the Israelis fear (well, more like the Israeli Prime Minister needs a victory against) Iran and these moderate Arabs have finally discovered the mason jar in which their balls are located. They believe their ability to pressure Iran is so important to Israel that Netanyahu, who is very clear that he will not be alive to see a palestinian state, will somehow rush to sign an agreement to get some dirtbag arabs to pressure Iran.
Not going to happen. They are the wrong ass to be kissing.
HOWEVER, the correct ass for Israel to kiss, and what it is very good at, is Washington. Obama clearly cannot tolerate an Israeli attack against Iran – not because of what it will trigger – the Iranians won’t do anything, but how it will affect his world view. He does not want to go on with Israel dictating the game. It went on under Bush, and Bush is bad. What Obama wants is Israel to play nice with everyone, because that is change. Israel, back to square one, is actually willing to play nice with everyone, if everyone agrees to play nice. A normalization of relations with the arab states, a stoppage of Iran’s nuclear program, and maybe a few billion dollars to Israel, and guess what, you may just get a palestinian state of semi-autonomy.
So, what you have is the Arabs being told by Obama, link the palestinian state with Iran, and this way I can use my leverage with Israel to get to my solution, which involves kumbaya around a bonfire with gefilte fish, pita, hummus and a nice rose garden ceremony.
The only problem is that Israel does not care to be f-ed with right now. The right wing in Israel has planned an attack against Iran since Obama was still teaching blacks how to qualify for welfare in south Chicago. Linkage will not work because Obama cannot right all the world’s wrongs and Israel has never planned a military exercise it did not carry out. Obama is viewed in Israel, quite correctly, as completely unsuited for the job.
So, it will be fun to watch Obama try to school Netanyahu, but the facts are these – Israel will destroy Iran’s nuclear reactor, there will be no Palestinian state for the next 10 years, and Obama will stop trying to win foreign affairs battles once his problems at home become more serious.