Commentary Magazine


Yeah, Right

Hillary Clinton will have to do better than that. “That” is her testimony to Congress concerning the new administration argument to Israel: don’t expect help from Arab states on Iran until you, Israel, make progress on the Palestinian question. Putting aside the fallacy that currently there is progress to be made on the Palestinian question, she is simply wrong.

A number of the Arab states were frankly rather supportive of Israel’s effort in Gaza specifically because they recognized it was a blow to Iran, which funds and encourages Hamas. Indeed, they could barely contain their glee as Iran suffered the set-back of seeing their protégés crushed. There was some surprising consensus that until Hamas and, in turn, its sponsor Iran, is defanged, there would be no progress toward Palestinian statehood. Egypt and Jordan, in words and deed, demonstrated that they understood linkage — but in the opposite direction suggested by Clinton.

Clinton’s line of argument ignores the reality that Arab states have every reason to oppose Iranian hegemony and aggression in the region. Surely, they continue to mouth the line that Palestinian grievances must be settled before . . . well, it used to be before Iraq was settled, but they will now identify something else. Yet one can see by their actions and public words (or silence during the Gaza invasion) that even they aren’t buying much of that rhetoric anymore. They, like Israel and the U.S., are aligned in their desire to contain Iran and prevent it from becoming a nuclear power.

So Clinton should come up with another line — or, better yet, begin to talk frankly about what is and isn’t possible regarding “progress” on the Palestinian question.

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