Commentary Magazine


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Pressuring Israel Will Not Produce Results in Iran

Jen already mentioned it but I want to emphasize this op-ed by my Council on Foreign Relations colleague Ray Takeyh. I often find myself disagreeing with Ray, but he’s on the money in dispelling the spurious linkage between Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and attempts to pressure Iran. He writes:

Although pressuring Israel to restrain its settlements may be a sensible means of gaining constructive Arab participation in the peace talks, it is unlikely to affect the region’s passive approach to Iran. Indeed, should Tehran perceive fissures and divisions in U.S.-Israeli alliance, it is likely to further harden its nuclear stance.

Ray gets it. But I wonder if the Obama administration does? To the extent that there is a strategy behind their get-tough-on-Netanyahu policy, as opposed to pure pique, it would seem to be the notion that the U.S. will reap major dividends in the Arab world by showing that it’s no patsy for Israel. As Ray notes, this is a foolish hope, because Arab rulers base their policies strictly on self-interest — not on a romantic attachment to the Palestinian cause. And until the U.S. shows that it is willing to do more to stand up to Iranian aggression, we will find few regimes in the region willing to step forward and risk Tehran’s wrath. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is a sideshow, but for some reason President Obama, like too many of his predecessors, has mistaken it for the main show.