Eclipsing Tehran

As Bolton put it, the world might not have forgotten about the Iranian threat, but... it’s the Palestinian issue that still grabs the headlines.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian Revolutionary Guard 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A surprising amount of attention is being paid to the Palestinian Authority’s UN statehood bid this September.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak set the tone in March when he referred to a UN General Assembly recommendation to recognize a Palestinian state along the 1949 armistice lines as having the potential to create a “diplomatic tsunami.”
Washington, meanwhile, based on US President Barack Obama’s speeches at the State Department on May 19 and to AIPAC on May 22 – which might have hurt his popularity among American Jewry and stoked tension with Israel – sought to find a formula that would convince the Palestinians to drop their statehood bid and return to the negotiating table.
France attempted to float a plan of its own, and the Mideast Quartet – the UN, US, Russia and EU – met Monday night with the goal of facilitating a renewal of talks to head-off the statehood bid.
While a General Assembly vote (a non-binding recommendation to the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state) is generating such a flurry of diplomatic activity, another UN-related matter with significantly more potential for destabilizing the region has been receiving precious little attention of late.
Former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, noted this disturbing fact in a meeting Tuesday with The Jerusalem Post editorial staff.
“It’s been interesting to me in the couple days I’ve been here to note the fascination people have with the question of the Palestinians seeking some kind of resolution at the United Nations on the subject of statehood,” Bolton said.
“In fact, I’ve had a lot of meetings where officials, and knowledgeable people, start off by saying we have not forgotten about the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And then they say, ‘But’... and the rest of the discussion is about the Palestinians at the UN,” he added.
Undeterred by four rounds of UN sanctions – as well as increasingly tighter US and EU trade and finance restrictions – the dissembling Islamic Republic continues to push ahead with its nuclear-arms program.
Meanwhile, it disingenuously claims to be cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog.
Just yesterday, following a meeting in Vienna with Yukiya Amano, director-general of the IAEA, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, falsely claimed that talks had been “very fruitful.”
Obviously, the meeting could not have been particularly congenial.
Amano undoubtedly reiterated his public declaration last week that he was “quite concerned” over Tehran’s announcement last month that it plans to shift its production of higher-grade uranium to an underground bunker, and triple output capacity. And repeated his demand that “further cooperation is needed to restore the confidence of the international community.”
The Iranian regime – stopping short of declaring outright its intention to produce an atomic bomb – is not even trying to hide the progress being made in its nuclear enrichment program.
At the end of last month, the Islamic Republic announced that sometime in January or February it had test-fired two long-range missiles into the Indian Ocean.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague estimated recently that Iran has been carrying out covert ballisticmissile tests and rocket launches – including some capable of delivering a nuclear payload.
Hague said the testing was a clear contravention of UN resolution 1929.
Israeli security sources recently expressed their concern that Iran was tightening its relations with North Korea, a rogue state with nuclear capability, to help develop its ballistic – and perhaps nuclear – capabilities.
Because it attempts to bypass direct dialogue with Israel, the Palestinian Authority’s UN statehood bid is counterproductive to the peace process. But the diplomatic danger it causes as a delegitimization effort leveled against Israeli control over parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – including sites resonant with religious, cultural and historical meaning for the Jewish people – might pale in comparison to damage on another front.
Preoccupation with Palestinian statehood seems to be diverting attention away from a far graver threat to regional stability: Iran’s seemingly unstoppable march toward nuclear capability.
As Bolton put it, the world might not have forgotten about the Iranian threat, but... it’s the Palestinian issue that still grabs the headlines.