Jul 21 2015

Iran Deal Could Help Palestinian Cause

Published by at 11:19 am under Articles,Palestinian politics,US-Middle East

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By Daoud Kuttab

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict might get an unexpected shot in the arm as a result of the recently concluded Iran nuclear agreement.

While the P5+1 talks in Vienna focused only on the issue of Iran’s nuclear capability, many are looking for how this agreement will effect regional conflicts. Some of the harshest critics of the deal accuse the Obama administration of making an agreement with what is described as the world’s “leading supporter of terrorism” without dealing with many of the Middle East’s regional issues.

Although those making these accusations have no interest increasing the pressure on Israel, this might be exactly what will possibly happen.

Political posturing has consequences, and the possible success of Obama’s foreign policies over warmongering hawks will not be lost on anyone in Washington.

Last March, the U.S. capital witnessed a rare and unusual event. The prime minister of a foreign country went to the podium of the U.S. congress and bad-mouthed a sitting president in cooperation with his political domestic opponents. This act by Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu will certainly have consequences if and when President Obama will sign the Iran Nuclear deal despite objections of his Republican opponents and right wing Israelis.

The $64,000 question is how the White House will respond to Netanyahu after the dust settles. While the U.S. will continue to support Israel militarily (Obama has done more in this regard than any previous president), the political trail will certainly be different.

In Israel the actions and demeanor of Netanyahu is coming under questioning. Member of Knesset Yair Lapid from Yesh Atid has called on the Israeli prime minister to resign for his role in causing a rift in relations between Israel and its main remaining ally the United States.

The successful resolution of the negotiations with Iran will most likely free up the U.S. and many of its western allies to pursue more vigorously the Palestine issue. The diplomatic success in Vienna and the unity that was witnessed in the talks will no doubt be revisited as the world community look at ways to try and resolve one of the most difficult conflicts remaining in the world. The fact that the pro Israel lobby has been weakened by exposing American Jewry to accusations of dual loyalty will no doubt weaken this lobby’s attempts to restrain the U.S. government from pushing for a solution to the cause of Palestine.

It is still too early to predict if the nuclear deal will also bring in some positive change in Iran’s regional and international policy especially in Syria and Yemen. Also many will be looking to see if Iran will have a moderating effect on its supporters in the region including Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

But perhaps the most important capital to keep an eye on will continue to be Washington. A rejuvenated U.S. president who is witnessing an increase in his favorability rating will want to leave a strong impression in the history books as to his legacy. He has yet to close down the Guantanamo prison and help bring about peace in the Middle East.

Will America’s 43 president who is experiencing more ratings are on the rise due to supreme court wins, and a better economy use this historic foreign policy success to push for peace in the Middle East or will he be in a mood to appease Israel and his domestic opponents?

In a case dealing with the state department’s insistence not to define Israelis and Palestinians born in Jerusalem as being born in Israel, the president won a clear mandate for America’s executive branch.

The U.S. Supreme court ruled this summer that the president as head of the executive has the sole power to recognize states.

It is highly unlikely that President Obama even in the last years and a half of his second term will surprise the world be recognizing Palestine. But the U.S. president can simply refrain from vetoing pro Palestinian statehood resolutions in the UN Security Council which have worldwide consensus. The French continue to insist that they are working on the language of a draft resolution that they are planning to submit to the UN Security Council. Worldwide support with a possible U.S abstention could possibly be a game changer in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Iran deal is specifically about the nuclear capacity of the Tehran Islamic regime, but the reverberation of this agreement can go a long way in changing the dark paradigm in the Middle East. If this positive step can be built on with good will it is not impossible to see that the deal worked out in Vienna can help kick start and possibly even resolve the decades old Palestine conflict.

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