The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States and his meeting with US President Barack Obama has received an extensive coverage in the media. The talks between the “Israeli hawk” and the “US peacemaker” are devoted to the current situation in the Middle East.
Pravda.Ru interviewed Georgy Mirsky, a Doctor of Historical Sciences, about the future situation in the troubled region.
“Why does the visit of the Israeli prime minister receive a lot of attention in the media?”
“US officials used to pay first priority attention to negotiations with their Israeli counterparts. The current visit comes somewhat late. Moreover, Obama had a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, before Netanyahu’s arrival. The new US president was trying to keep Netanyahu at a distance for a certain period of time, which shows that the American leader was concerned about the activities of the Israeli government.”
“What could be the reasons for these concerns?”
“Netanyahu’s government is the most far-right government of all the previous Israeli governments. Unlike the previous cabinets headed by Sharon and Olmert, Benjamin Netanyahu confuses Obama’s plans, who strives for a peaceful regulation of the conflict. The Israeli prime minister does not even want to think about it. The US administration believes that Netanyahu runs retrogressive politics.
“Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman does not want to hear anything about the Palestinian State and shares a tough approach even to Israeli Arabs. These views ruin all of Obama’s peaceful initiatives.”
“Does Obama seriously want to regulate the eternal conflict in the Middle East?”
“He wants to succeed as soon as possible. Russia is not one of Obama’s major objectives at the moment. He is concentrated on the problems of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bush ruined the relations with the Islamic world and created a great deal of problems for the United States. Obama’s meetings with Muslim leaders demonstrate a change in the foreign politics of the USA.
“Netanyahu’s rise to power has become one of the biggest disappointments for Obama. The Israeli PM stands strongly against the concept of two states. He also demands the Palestinians should recognize Israel as the Jewish State. However, even adequate Palestinian leaders, like Mahmoud Abbas, are not ready for this. Arabs make 20 percent of the Israeli population. They strongly reject the idea of the Jewish State. Netanyahu is not ready to block the construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank of Jordan, which also raises concerns with the Arabs.”
“Does Netanyahu have any questions to Obama?”
“He does. The most important one of them is about the Iranian nuclear program. Netanyahu is certain that this problem must be solved absolutely urgently, and he does not exclude a military attack against Iranian nuclear objects. Most Israelis support him at this point.
“An attack against Iran would completely ruin the efforts of the US administration in terms of developing closer ties with the Muslim world. In this case Washington would lose all Arab allies entirely, including Abbas. Obama tries to make Netanyahu understand that the solution of the Iranian nuclear problem can be found in the regulation of the Israeli-Arab problem. The US president believes that it will weaken Iran’s positions in the Muslim world.”
“Is there a chance for Netanyahu to accept Obama’s suggestions?”
“Netanyahu can not be described as a completely independent politician. First and foremost, he needs to preserve his government. Any concession on his part can split his cabinet.”
“Many people say that Israel aggravates the situation in the Middle East. However, how can it be possible to negotiate with the Arabs, who attack Jewish settlements soon after they sign yet another truce agreement?
“Lieberman manipulates these arguments. There is a grain of truth in his words. He says that Israel left Lebanon and received Hezbollah in return. Israel left Gaza and received Hamas in return. Therefore, Israel does not want to leave the West Bank of Jordan.
“Israel cannot sit on its hands, while Iran is developing its nuclear program to wipe Israel off the map of the world, as Iranian president once said. However, the war is not likely to occur. There are thousands of Arabs living in Israel, which means that Iran will hardly ever strike Israel.”
“The Iraqi nuclear problem was solved after Israel struck its nuclear reactor in 1981. Is it possible that the situation with Iran will unfold similarly?”
“The situation with Iran differs greatly from that with Iraq. Israel bombed Saddam Hussein’s only nuclear object. Iran took that mistake into consideration and dispersed its nuclear objects across the nation, which complicates their destruction.
“Iran would need to cross the line to provoke Israel’s attack. For the time being, Iran only has low-enriched uranium, but it can try to obtain highly enriched uranium which could be used for the production of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, it is too early to speak about a possible war. The parties are still playing their game.”
Interview prepared by Sergey Balmasov
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