Is the U.S. Misreading the Middle East?

(Washington Post) John R. Bolton - The idea of raising the Palestinian Authority from its ashes on the West Bank to govern Gaza leaves Israelis across the political spectrum speechless. The Washington Post's Ishaan Tharoor recently described the Palestinian Authority as "weak and increasingly unpopular" and a "sclerotic institution, riven with corruption" and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as presiding "over his rump of a fiefdom like other Arab autocrats in the region, stifling civil society and repeatedly dodging calls for fresh elections." It defies common sense that such an entity should be entrusted with responsibility on the West Bank, let alone post-conflict Gaza. With regard to the objective of full diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, before Oct. 7, Riyadh and Jerusalem were progressing toward mutual recognition, motivated by their shared view of Iran's threat, amplified by the palpable economic and political benefits likely after recognition. The current Gaza conflict has not altered those realities. Rather, Iran's "ring of fire" strategy against Israel has emphasized, not reduced, the congruence of Israel's and Saudi Arabia's national security priorities. The issue of Palestinian statehood will not be a dealbreaker for Riyadh. Recognizing a Palestinian state before peace is agreed on with Israel only compounds the error. Such suggestions mirror Yasser Arafat's campaign in UN agencies to make "Palestine" a state just by saying so. They contradict years of U.S. policy, as well as the Oslo Accords, and will cause Israel to stiffen its resistance. This is no way to treat an ally gravely threatened by Tehran. As for concerns about a "wider war," the U.S. and Israel have been in a wider war since Oct. 7. The real cause is unmistakably Iran. Until Iran stops interfering beyond its borders - stops arming, equipping, training and financing terrorist groups and stops seeking nuclear weapons - there will be no lasting Middle East peace and security. Iran does not and will not fear U.S. power until it pays heavily for what its barbaric surrogate Hamas unleashed four months ago, now joined in violence by Hizbullah, the Houthis and Shiite militias. The writer served as national security adviser under President Donald Trump.

2024-02-07 00:00:00

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