Analysis: Is the PM shifting the Obama administration's attention from the Palestinian issue to Iran?

Judging by the flurry of news reports since the weekend, things appear to be heating up on the Iranian front.

By
July 6, 2009 23:55
2 minute read.
Analysis: Is the PM shifting the Obama administration's attention from the Palestinian issue to Iran?

Alaeddin Broujerdi 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

Judging by the flurry of news reports since the weekend, things appear to be heating up on the Iranian front. The first report came out Friday in The Jerusalem Post regarding the passage of one of Israel's advanced Dolphin-class submarines through the Suez Canal. The story - picked up by every international news agency - was interpreted as a signal to Teheran regarding Israeli covert military capabilities. On Sunday, the second message came. This time in the Sunday Times of London, in a report which claimed that Mossad chief Meir Dagan - whose tenure was recently extended for an eighth year - had reached secret understandings with Saudi Arabia according to which Israeli planes would be able to fly over the kingdom on their way to a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. That same night, US Vice President said three times in an ABC interview that "Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else." The Iranian response came Monday morning. Alaeddin Broujerdi, the head of Iran's parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, said the Islamic republic is ready to take "real and decisive" action if Israel attacks its nuclear facilities. "Both the US and Israel are aware of the consequence of an erroneous decision," he told reporters at the Iranian Embassy in Tokyo. "I believe our response will be real and decisive," Broujerdi said. He declined to elaborate. While Biden's comments were likely not coordinated with Israel, they do serve the government's interest. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been working hard since he took office on March 31 to shift the Obama administration's attention away from the Palestinian issue and the settlements to Iran, the real threat in the Middle East. This may be the beginning of that shift. At the same time, Biden feels comfortable using Israel as the United States' stick in the run-up to the dialogue the administration plans to hold with Teheran, a dialogue which, according to the consensus in Israel, is doomed to fail. Shortly after Barack Obama was sworn in as president in January, the White House announced its plan to engage Iran in a dialogue, in a sharp break from the Bush administration. The understanding then was that the dialogue would begin immediately after the presidential elections in Iran, held last month. The problem was that that the elections led to a political impasse with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the winner but Mir Hossein Mousavi refusing to recognize the results. As a result, the dialogue has not begun, and if Obama now spoke with Ahmadinejad, it would be as if he were granting legitimacy to an oppressive and violent regime. This is where Israel comes into play. Biden can use Israel to threaten Iran that if it doesn't settle down at the negotiating table, who knows what the Netanyahu government might do.


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