Apr 27 2015

Palestine should not be collateral damage of Iran deal

Published by at 1:28 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics,US-Middle East

Al-Araby al-jadeed

By Daoud Kuttab

An important question has yet to be answered. Will Arabs and especially Palestinians be the biggest losers in the game being played between Iran, the White House, Capitol Hill and Israel?Arab thinker Azmi Bishara believes that if Arabs stay neutral over the P5+1 framework deal they will become collateral damage. In other words it is not possible to remain neutral in a process that is attractive to Iranian reformers and American liberals.

On the other hand Israel is heavily engaged in two international cases: the international efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear programme and the world’s desire to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

While the nuclear issue appears to be well on its way to being resolved, there is concern that a trade-off between the two cases might take place.

All sides deny any link, but there is concern that the fierce Israeli opposition to agreement with Iran could force Washington to make an unethical trade-off.
The US president, Barack Obama, is facing stubborn opposition from Republicans in Congress, and even from some of his fellow Democrats.

There is no doubt that the opposition in Congress would be reduced if the Israelis were to realise the agreement is not a bad deal, and certainly much better than no deal.
Both Israel and the US have repeatedly said they prefer no deal with Iran to a bad deal. What has been agreed will impose the strictest monitoring regime ever created for a potentially nuclear-armed country in return for a lifting of sanctions.
The extended negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme produced an alliance between right-wing US Republicans and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu vs Obama
The victory of Netanyahu’s Likud party in Israeli parliamentary elections last month has widened the gap between the White House and the Israeli leadership.

Netanyahu campaigned on the promise that there would be no Palestinian state during his term in office.

While Netanyahu backed off from his electoral promise the day after his election, this did little to soften the Obama administration’s anger at such an anti-peace position.
The US is leading a coalition of Arab and Muslim countries against extremist groups that have been destabilising the Middle East and North African region.
The US believes that the continuation of the Israeli occupation adds to frustration in the region.
Obama vs US CongressAs the US Congress gears up to oppose the framework deal with Iran, the White House is rallying the US public behind its position, which is that the agreement is the best possible with the current Iranian regime.

The Republicans, who are a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, are trying to convince enough Democrats to join them in opposing the deal.
Republicans need a veto-busting super majority of 67 out of 100 votes in order to frustrate what could be a major legacy for Obama.Some Democrats are fervently pro-Israel, such as Chuck Schumer, who is reportedly wavering between standing with his president and opposing the Iranian deal.

Will the Obama administration attempt to sway some of the hesitant Democratic members by promising to ease off on pressing Israel on the Palestine issue?

Politics makes strange bedfellows and political trade-offs are common in all arenas.
While the Palestinian issue is a just cause, there is no guarantee that in its effort to seal the Iran agreement, the Obama administration will not soften its currently tough stand against Netanyahu on the need to end Israeli occupation.
Arabs and other supporters of Palestine must make sure that such a link between support for Iran and opposition to Palestine and Arab interests does not bear fruit in the next few crucial months.If we don’t take a proactive position on the Iran agreement and other world issues, we will surely become collateral damage in the clash of the titans.

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