(Guardian) – The faultlines among Israel’s leaders over whether to take unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear capability have deepened, with a prime ministerial aide launching a stinging public rebuke to President Shimon Peres after he said that the country should not act alone.
“Shimon Peres forgets what the role of the president of Israel is,” an official from Binyamin Netanyahu’s office was quoted in the Israeli media as saying.
In an interview on Israeli television, Peres said: “It is clear to us we cannot do it on our own. We can only delay [Iran’s progress]. Thus it’s clear to us that we need to go together with America. There are questions of co-operation and timetables, but as severe as the danger is, at least this time we’re not alone.”
He said he was confident that the US would take action, but added: “My estimate is that they will not do this before the elections, which are more than 80 days away.”
Following the remarks, Netanyahu’s office openly attacked the president’s judgment, suggesting three previous occasions when it had been wrong. The first, according to an aide quoted in the Israeli media, was after the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, when Peres “thought there would be a new Middle East”. The second was following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 when “he thought there would be peace … but in reality we got missiles”.
The aide continued: “But Peres’s biggest mistake was in 1981 when he opposed [Israel’s] bombing of the Iraqi reactor. Luckily, prime minister Menachem Begin ignored him.”
Shimon Peres later stood by his comments, saying: “I say what is in my heart with a loud and clear voice.”
The president’s views echoed those of many former and current military, intelligence and political figures in Israel. US officials have also made repeated efforts to dissuade Netanyahu and Barak from unilateral action.
Will Israel’s leaders accept an all-out war with Iran including repercussions by Hamas and Hezbollah rockets and missiles hitting Israel. Netanyahu must be confident he can survive and deliver a final punch on Gaza and the West Bank, pushing Palestinians across the river Jordan. He expects Obama to be on Israel’s side before the US Presidential Elections. If Obama chooses not to, Netanyahu feels certain this will mean defeat for Obama and a new period of Republicans in power with a friendly Congress. Netanyahu is all about power and getting rid of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. The dangers of a unilateral decision by Netanyahu-Barak. After I wrote down these thoughts, I googled for some specific information. This article comes pretty close to a reality I fear in the coming months …
More below the fold ► ►
Moshe Machover ‘s exciting and challenging new book, Israelis and Palestinians: Conflict and Resolution. What follows is an exchange with the author. My headline comes from a question halfway through, about the opportunity Israel sees in regional turmoil to deal with the “ethnic peril” of a large Palestinian population in the West Bank.
(Mondoweiss) – All the problems in this region stem from the way that the imperial powers France and Britain divided the region after the First World War, to serve their purposes. Iraq was put together to serve British interests. Syria, Lebanon, and a country called Palestine were created or refashioned. This new country, Palestine, was an invention of British imperialism following the First World War; and it was designed explicitly as a domain for Zionist colonization. A whole complex of problems, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a sort of fallout from the fragmentation and parcelization of the Ottoman Empire in its eastern flank.
You see there is a Zionist version of what in America was called “manifest destiny”. The Zionist leadership regards the various accords, for example their agreement to the Partition of Palestine in 1947– they regard it in the exactly the same spirit as the US regarded the Indian treaties. They have just made it explicit with the Levy commission. The Levy Commission actually submitted a report that is going to be problematic, because you see the Zionists want Palestinian land but they don’t want Palestinians. The reason why they have not annexed the bulk of the West Bank with the exception of Jerusalem, where there is a Jewish majority– the reason why they have not annexed, is they want to get rid of the population first.
If this Levy commission says that the West Bank is not occupied, then what is it? If it’s not occupied territory, then Israel is free to annex it, and that would in the short term pose a problem to any Zionist government because they would have to annex an area populated by non-Jews. That is the horrible “ethnic peril”. They have to solve this. They are opposed to a Palestinian state, but they are even more terrified of being ethnically swamped by the Palestinians. So for them the way out of the dilemma is ethnic cleansing.
Need the cloak of a regional war and chaos
For this they need a prolonged regional crisis, and a war with Iran may come in handy. I’ve warned against this before. I have an article in the book about Sharon’s plan [in 2002] to “transfer” Palestinians from the West Bank. Shortly after I wrote this article, a rightwing British paper, the Sunday Telegraph, ran a piece by an eminent Israeli stratetgic expert, Martin van Creveld, and he said, Look, Sharon has a plan for ethnically cleansing a big part of the population of the West Bank, and the opportunity for this will be an American invasion of Iraq.
This is part of the reason that Netanyahu is so adamant about resolving the Iranian issue by war, rather than diplomacy or siege; he wants a full out war, because whatever the actual consequences of the war regarding Iran, whether it will end Iran’s nuclear program [or delay its development], the opportunity will present itself for ethnic cleansing in the West Bank.
I don’t think they have made the final decision themselves. Of course there is a flipside. It’s not guaranteed to succeed. Secondly, Israel may suffer casualties in such a war. It’s a costly thing. Of course, if the casualties are not too high, then an achievement of ethnic cleansing from a Zionist point of view will justify Israeli casualties, because that will guarantee the survival of the Jewish Zionist state for the foreseeable future, by ending the ethnic peril. But it’s a gamble.
As you probably know, a big part of the Israeli military and intelligence establishment are advising against. But this is revealing. Netanyahu makes a calculation as a politician, and has the future of Zionism in mind.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu w/ Chris Wallace