Israel’s Nuclear Policy Fiasco after Its Hamas Contretemps

Washington and the European Union are congratulating themselves on getting 27 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s 35 members to refer the Iranian nuclear program to the UN Security Council. This is still a long way from sanctions. But the diplomatic achievement was achieved at a price, one that was paid for by the collapse of a fundamental Israeli policy platform just two weeks after the interim Olmert government was rocked back by the Islamic Hamas terror group’s attainment of enough parliamentary seats to form the next Palestinian government.
Saturday, Feb. 4, Jerusalem stood back and watched the United States buckle under European pressure and accept Egypt’s demand to incorporate the following phrase in the resolution on Iran:
The resolution recognized “that a solution to the Iranian issue would contribute to global nonproliferation efforts and… the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”
This linkage between Iran’s violations of its commitments under international treaty and the Israeli case has long been demanded by the Arab states and opposed by Washington. Its acceptance now opens the way for the integration of the same linkage in the Security Council debate on Iran. It provides a pretext for a whole new set of maneuvers and dilatory tactics by Tehran.
For Israel, there are several serious ramifications:
1. The last batch of prime ministers, the late Yithzak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and now Ehud Olmert, opted to leave the nuclear issue in the hands of the United States and the United Nations. None of them foresaw the day when the Israeli case would be dredged up as a stratagem to ease the passage of the Iranian nuclear crisis to the UN Security Council.
2. While the Vienna decision looks like a victory for Western diplomacy, Iran’s leaders have lost no time in seizing on it as a license to go full throttle ahead with their illicit uranium enrichment, free of UN spot inspections. Furthermore, they have been given added leverage: before halting their own program, they can demand that the entire Middle East be disarmed – first and foremost Israel.
3. The reference to weapons of mass destruction and means of delivery would also require Israel to give up its long-range missiles.
4. The Arab states will achieve their old ambition of forcing the Security Council to address Israel’s nuclear program.
5. The American surrender to the Arab demand was carried through by telephone between US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Egyptian foreign minister Aboul Gheit. Jerusalem was not brought into the picture and was taken completely unawares. This is an indicator of how Washington regards interim prime minister Ehud Olmert.
6. The Bush administration’s capitulation to Arab and European demands is part of the collapse of the larger US strategy in the Middle East ever since Hamas rose to victory two weeks ago. Washington’s changed attitude shows up in one issue after another, the Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria and now Iran.
Olmert and his foreign minister Tzipi Livni say they are pleased to see international opinion lining up behind their stipulations from Hamas, but this apparent alignment is no more than diplomatic claptrap. Europe has not halted its aid program for the Palestinian Authority claiming that the Hamas-led government is not yet in place. The Olmert government is about to follow suit. Despite all the high-flown sentiments about pre-conditions to force Hamas to disarm and recognize Israel, Mahmoud Abbas has started negotiations with the fanatical Islamic leaders on forming a new government, while they declare outright they have no intention of abandoning their objective of destroying Israel.
On all these fronts, Israel’s fundamental interests are fast eroding under inimical initiatives, while its government maintains a posture of complacent passivity.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email