Temporary borders for Palestine and an Iranian attack
Steve Rosen, a former top official with American Israel Public Affairs Committee has predicted a Palestinian State with temporary borders and an American strike on Iran.
Speaking at a media lunch organised by The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Rosen who is currently Director of the Middle East Forum’s Washington Project, said that when Obama came to power he had two international priorities…one was to try to resolve the Israeli-Palesinian conflict and the other to “come to some accommodation between the West and Islam”.
He said that there was a belief that former President George W Bush had “tried to park the Palestinian question”. According to Rosen, Obama set out to repair the damage in the US-Muslim World relations citing his famous trip and speech in Cairo but he added “the Middle East has not been kind to Barak Obama” adding that the attitude of the Muslim world is worse now than four years ago when Obama started his presidential career stating “America’s relations with the Muslim world have declined.”
Turning to the issue of the non-existent peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Rosen numbered thirteen public confrontations between Barak Obama, Joe Biden and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the issue of the settlements.
Rosen switched his focus to the imminent visit of President Barak Obama to Israel. He said that the world was showing great interest on the impact of this visit on the Israel Palestinian issue but said that the administration did not want “to raise expectations” adding that the he is “going back at it but without the optimism”.
Steve Rosen believes that the new government being formed in Israel “opens up new possibilities” saying that the previous Israeli administration had been “the most conservative government in Israel’s history by far”. Referring to the giving back of Gaza and the introduction of rockets being fired on Tel Aviv he said that “the Israeli public has less confidence in the land for peace model” adding that the average Israeli’s attitude is that “the last line of our latest withdrawal is the starting line of their next attack”.
He said that the new government in formation in Israel “is a different kind of government”. He mentioned the introduction to the government of the Central Left’s Yair Lapid and of the involvement of Tzipi Livni who has been promised a “special role in negotiations with the Palestinians”. He said there is now a considerable block of the Central Left within the new coalition describing them as people who believe that some kind of political resolution with the Palestinians is in Israel’s own vital interests and that everything possible has to be done to resume Israel-Palestinian negotiations, that a Palestinian State is necessary to prevent Israel becoming a bi-national State and that Israel can live in peace with a Palestinian State if rightly negotiated.”
He went on to say that there is going to be “a renewed emphasis on the surge for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the Israeli side”. Maintaining that Obama is well aware of this, Rosen said that they need to go back to the Palestinians and get them “to climb down from this branch that they’ve climbed on to where they are refusing to negotiate and I think you are going to witness an effort in that direction”. He mentioned John Kerry’s statement that Obama’s emphasis on the settlements had also served to drive the Israelis away from the peace table. He said the point was that “if we got the Israelis and Palestinians to settle on the borders situation there wouldn’t be an issue with the settlements.”
Rosen said that the Israelis do face formidable problems referring to the current administration in Egypt’s attitude towards Israeli-Egyptian relations being quite different to that of former President Mubarak. He also referred to Gaza being heavily armed and “with every passing day becoming more heavily armed”. Dealing with the Palestinian Authority, Rosen said that the power of Abbas and Fayed had been heavily weakened and that Abbas had no succession plan in place and has no deputy.
With no successor in place should something happen to him, Palestinian law dictates that the Speaker of the Palestinian parliament assumes the leadership. Rosen said “The Speaker is not a particularly important guy but he is a Hamas factotum and operates under the thumb of the Hamas leadership.” According to Rosen, if anything should happen to Abbas “we would have a Hamas government in the West Bank”.
Rosen predicted that during the Obama visit: “You are going to see a serious effort to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. It is going to involve multi-lateral co-operation. Secretary of State Kerry will play a key role. Most of the Arab League will play a role in bringing the Palestinians to the table most importantly King Abdullah of Jordan”. Rosen believes it could produce a interim Palestinian state with temporary borders. He said that the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Quartet and the UN Security Council have already signed on to the idea of a temporary borders”. he said that the initial talks would not deal with all the difficult question with many of them being left until the next stage.
Switching to Iran, Rosen said that in 2009 Obama had wanted to use diplomacy rather than having to deal with a military attack on a nuclear-armed Iran. He said that instead, the Iranians have accelerated production of enriched uranium and built secret underground facilities. Rosen point out that the Iranians “have advanced centrifuges and have become more defiant in their rhetoric”.
Rosen said that recently Vice-President Joe Biden had said that President Obama is not bluffing. Biden said: “He means it when he says we do not have a policy of containment. We have a policy of prevention and he will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.” President Obama had said the same thing in the United Nations.
Accroding to Steve Rosen, President Obama is “not a pacifist” saying that the fallout from the drone attacks has not stopped him in maintaining their usage. Rosen said that President Obama is worried that the Israelis will attack Iran and this will also be on the agenda during his visit. “There is no secret that there is a lack of trust between Netanyahu and Obama”, says Rosen. The analyst said that on visits to Israel high level contacts have told him that the Israelis believe that Obama is bluffing and that Netanyahu will launch an attack on Iran soon.
Rosen believes Obama will ask Netanyahu to have more confidence in him and asks why the United States would prefer to attack Iran rather than let the Israelis do it. He answered by saying that United States have much more military power and to compare the two countries “is a joke”. But the most important issue for Rosen is that the United States “can come back a second time”. He alluded to the counter-response from the Iranians sating that you have two different lines of thought making it clear that a counter-attack against Israel is far from a counter-attack against the United States. The Israelis would lose aircraft and resources and would be stretched to the limit and would have to face world opinion. The United States on the other hand has resources to come back many times…and could hit regime targets as well as the nuclear sites.
Rosen concluded: “I believe Obama will try to persuade Netanyahu to leave the Iranian problem to him. The Unites States is a global power and Iran is a global problem.”
His conclusions: Netanyahu will sign an agreement giving a Palestinian State temporary borders and I predict President Obama will muscle up.”