Israel's president, prime minister and foreign minister are visiting Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest this week, apparently impervious to the European Union foreign ministers' decision in Brussels Monday, Jan. 25, to back away from sanctions for Iran's nuclear program outside the UN Security Council.
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle signed off on the motion, the day before Israeli president Shimon Peres' Hebrew address to the German parliament in Berlin.
debkafile: The Netanyahu government clings to the anchor of supposed international sanctions for halting Iran's advance on a nuclear weapon. Monday, before traveling to Poland, prime minister Netanyahu said at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum: "Today there are new Jew haters with new reasons to destroy the Jewish people. This is a test for humanity, and we will see in the coming weeks how the international community will stop the evil before it spreads."
Well, he had his answer than same afternoon, yet this eloquence vanished on the plane trips to Europe.
None of the Israeli travelers have commented on the decision by the European foreign ministers to dump the sanctions option in the laps of Russia and China, knowing their vetoes are committed in advance and that both stand out for more diplomatic engagement plus concessions to Tehran. The EU foreign ministers stated: "With Iran, [sanctions] will work out only if all the UN Security Council permanent members agree." Every one of those ministers was fully aware that this proposition was a fantasy.
If Israel counted on Washington staying the course, there too there are signs of cold feet. The Obama has reduced the target of possible unilateral measures to the Revolutionary Guards Corps which is responsible for Iran's nuclear program, in order to avoid harming the Iranian people.
As debkafile has stressed before, the Revolutionary Guards have umpteen mostly criminal ways of beating sanctions: They run a vast network of straw companies worldwide and move money around through international crime, smuggling, terror and drug conduits out of America's reach rather than the banking system.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi are undoubtedly Israel's best friends on the European continent, but they too conduct a dual policy on Iran. They sternly denounce Iran, while at the same time hundreds of German and Italian companies do business with the Islamic Republic, some even selling components for its missile and nuclear programs. Indeed, German and Italian firms are in tight competition over the Iranian market, with the latter reportedly gaining the edge this year.
No German transaction with Iran has been cancelled under Israeli pressure contrary to reports to this effect.
The most realistic European leader is French president Nicolas Sarkozy who Tuesday, Jan. 26, called for new and different steps to be pursued to halt Iran's dash for a nuclear bomb. Still, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner did not hold out against his colleagues consensus in Brussels.