Israel Shopping Issue of Iran Among World Powers

Date: 12-05-2009 | Category: Articles, Middle East

Israel Shopping Issue of Iran Among World Powers

By Michael Carl
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
Israel, through Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s current travels, is shopping the issue of Iran among the world powers, trying to obtain action on the surging effort in the Muslim nation to obtain nuclear power.
Liberman already has traveled to Athens and Russia for high-level meetings with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe and Foreign Minister Sergie Lavarov and Deputy Premier Viktor Zubkov of Russia.
He’s seeking support for Israel’s concern over Iran, an issue highlighted recently by the U.N. Security Council vote condemning Tehran’s nuclear efforts.
Hoover Institution Fellow Bob Zelnick believes Iran is Israel’s No. 1 concern.
"Iran’s nuclear program is a matter of life and death for Israel. I don’t think there’s any occasion without Israel sounding the alarm about a nuclear Iran. Mr. Liberman is also going to invite Europe to do what ought to be done about Iran’s non-cooperation, and that’s a harsh regimen of sanctions followed by something even more harsh if Iran continues to be stubborn," Zelnick said.
Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Davis Institute for International Studies, a unit of the Heritage Foundation, says Liberman is presenting arguments for action against Iran.
He noted Liberman believes Russia is moving towards a U.S. position on Iran."Mr. Liberman says his OSCE colleagues viewed the December 1 statement of Iranian President Ahmadinejad as a slap in the face. These are important because Israel believes that right now, Iran is their biggest threat."
Iran’s president issued a statement saying he doesn’t see any need to halt Iranian plans to build 10 more uranium enrichment facilities.
Cohen, a specialist on Israel, however, believes solo action on Iran will not be discussed.
"Liberman may try to gain European approval for Israel to act unilaterally on Iran, but I’m not optimistic about Israel’s ability to go it alone. I recognize the limitations of Israeli capabilities," Cohen said.
Zelnick believes Liberman’s agenda is securing Israel’s connections in Europe.
"The Israeli Foreign Ministry is deeply concerned about their deteriorating relations with Europe. During the Bush administration, the Europeans let the U. S. take the lead in the road map for Middle East peace," Zelnick said.
Cohen calls Liberman’s outreach, especially at the OSCE conference, an opening to better relations with European and Central Asian leaders.
"It’s a unique opportunity for the foreign minister of Israel to meet his counterparts from 20 European countries as well as the ministers from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Russia," Cohen said.
He also said the Goldstone Report will be discussed. The report by the United Nation’s Human Rights Council on the Gaza conflict was harshly critical of Israel’s conduct.
Ehud Eiran, an Israeli analyst at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, said Israel’s foreign policy is narrowly focused by design.
"Liberman’s mission is to gain the dialogue Israel is seeking with Europe and to ease the traditional tension between Israeli-European contact. Israel has also focused on the Goldstone Report," Eiran said.
Yet another issue that likely will be on the table is European support for a Palestinian state.
"Israel’s relationship with Europe is dissolving very quickly now and there are reports that the Europeans are demanding the partitioning of Jerusalem with East Jerusalem being the capital of a Palestinian state," Zelnick added.
"There is a rumble among Westerners sympathetic to the Palestinians that negotiations aren’t productive at this time whether they conduct them or not," Zelnick explained. "They believe the Palestinians should take certain steps that could lead to their own declaration of statehood."
"I think the alliance with the road map to peace was positive for Israel’s purposes and it’s in danger of becoming less of a factor. If Europe starts taking substantive positions on the Middle East, like a return to the pre-1967 boundaries, and I’m expecting the Europeans to do that, the Palestinians will be emboldened to declare a Palestinian state," Zelnick explained.
Cohen, however, believes there’s only soft European support for a Palestinian state.
"The declaration of a Palestinian state would be disruptive to the process. Lieberman will be making sure that Europe will not recognize a Palestinian state," Cohen said.
"From what I see, the Europeans are not rushing to recognize a unilaterally proclaimed Palestinian state. We’ve seen some statements from European leaders and I didn’t see any support in that direction," Cohen added.
Another goal is to enhance Israel’s reputation as a partner in security and economic issues.
"An accurate observation would be that Israel is trying to raise its diplomatic profile. My sense is that there’s a great deal of alarm in Israel about Europe spinning off from the road map and the lack of cooperation of Europe with the United States and Russia," Zelnick said.
"My sense is that Israel is always trying to make itself a player in Europe, they have to present themselves as a party that is ready to negotiate on a serious basis with a team that can make progress at the table," Zelnick explained "Israel is there to try to develop its profile and it’s important for Israel to show itself as a nation that is willing to negotiate."
"Liberman has to convince Europe that Israel is serious about the peace process, serious about the two states, side-by-side, living in peace and security. Right now, there are serious doubts about Israel and I think European governments could be going back to their traditional posture of not being friendly towards Israel," Zelnick warned.

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