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Wrong timing, wrong tactic

Apr 17,2014 - Last updated at Apr 17,2014

Several media and press outlets carried a few days ago news that Israel, through its Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is secretly talking to a number of “moderate” Arab countries.

The aim is to establish an alliance against the “Iranian threat”, especially the one posed by its “nuclear” programme and those of radical and terrorist “Islamist” groups in the region. 

Lieberman went as far as to say that “for the first time there is an understanding there [in those Arab countries, that is] that the real threat is not Israel, the Jews or Zionism. It is Iran, global Jihad, Hizbollah and Al Qaeda”.

One is at a loss for words. Is this Israel’s delirium or is it Arab gullibility?

Ironically, such statements come just as Israel subverted the American-led peace initiative and its lawless settlers and soldiers are desecrating and threatening the third holiest mosque for Arabs and Muslims in Jerusalem.

Three things should be made clear.

First, the one who occupied Arab land, and continues to do so, is Israel. And it is Israel that demolishes Palestinian houses on daily basis, disrespects and desecrates holy places, confiscates Palestinian lands and builds illegal settlements.

Israel also discriminates against Arabs, including Arabs who are its own citizens, by insisting on its Jewishness. And it is Israel who violates human rights and disregards human life.

It perpetrates massacres of civilians and commits war crimes. It rejects and subverts all peace efforts, thus legitimising and strengthening what it calls radical Islamists and terrorists.

Without Israel’s occupation and usurpation of Palestinian lands, none of these groups would be powerful today.

What made it possible for Hizbollah to be born, survive and thrive? It is Israel’s continued harassment of Lebanon, aggression on its territory and subversion of its sovereignty.

Iran, by contrast, has done none of these things. It has not occupied Arab land, does not flagrantly discriminate against Arabs, and does not kill Arabs or destroy their houses on daily basis.

Iran is no angel, of course. It is contributing to some of the tension in the region and it is interfering negatively in inter-Arab affairs — at the invitation of some Arabs and as a direct outcome of Israel’s own provocative policies towards it. But the problems it causes and the threat it poses are nowhere near those created by Israel.

More importantly, this Iranian threat can be dealt with directly by the Arabs themselves. They need no mediators.

The second point pertains to the Iranian nuclear programme.

Over the past three years, the Israeli government has done its best, including resorting to outright political blackmail through its lobbyists in America, to persuade the American administration to view the Iranian nuclear as posing a serious threat to Israel and to the region and that, therefore, it is the major issue in the Middle East.

The intention is to shift attention away from Israel’s refusal to make peace with the Palestinians, and grant them their legitimate rights and state, which has been the case for over 60 years.

The Obama administration — and a lot of credit should go to it because of the correct views it held on the subject and the wisdom with which it handled the Iranian threat — did not buy the Israeli bluff.

So if America, which is Israel’s strongest ally and defender and which considers Israel’s security a high priority, did not buy the Israeli bluff, why should the Arabs?

Furthermore, is it not ironic and farcical that Israel, which possesses a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, should make so much fuss about an Iranian nuclear programme that is in its infancy, especially since there is no proof that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons?

Whose nuclear weapons are the real and pose the sole threat in the region?

The third point is that the Arabs want peace and normal relations with Israel. They made this clear on many occasions, and through the Arab Peace Initiative that Israel subverted and killed.

But peace should happen when Israel withdraws from all occupied Arab territory, recognises the Palestinian state, helps the Palestinians build a viable state on their own land and lives in peace with its Arab neighbours.

Normalisation comes after peace is fully made, and not before.

Nothing brings stability to the region, normalisation of relations and security for all but peace.

Is Israel ready for peace? Not really.

The mere fact that it is approaching Arab countries in order to form an alliance against Iran shows that it still has a hostile outlook and a vision grounded in animosity and military power.

If Lieberman wants security and safety, and then good relations with “moderate” Arab states, he should respect the Arab Peace Initiative and make peace with the Palestinians, first.

Then the Arabs would welcome talks with him, openly, not secretly.

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