Monday, November 02, 2009
Iran and Israel
Iran has a uranium enrichment program. We think the program can lead to producing uranium enriched enough in the 235 isotope to make a nuclear weapon. We would like to stop the enrichment program or at least stop the enrichment at about five percent or so U-235 instead of the ninety percent needed for a bomb. Iran is reluctant to accept any limit on its program even though it doesn't seem to be trying right now to produce nuclear weapons. Iran will agree one week to a scheme to export its uranium to Russia and France for enrichment to about five percent and fabrication into fuel rods for a reactor. The next week it pulls back from the agreement. And so it goes. Iran may be serious or it may be just stringing us along. We can't tell yet.
Israel has a program of building homes for immigrant Jews in various parts of the Holy Land. Many of these homes are a-building in an area that the international community believes should be reserved for a Palestinian state. There is a proposed boundary between Israel and the future Palestinian state that Israel refuses to recognize. Arab countries view the continuation of building settlements as proof that Israel has no intention of ever agreeing to the existence of a separate state for the Palestinians. Instead, the Arab view (and mine) is that Israel really wants all of the Holy Land for the State of Israel and intends to encourage or force the indigenous Palestinians to move to other Arab countries and give up hope of creating an Arab State of Palestine. The problem for the United States is that we need the good will of the Arab countries and we can not have it unless we can manage to create a viable state for the Palestinians.
Our approach to the Palestine-Israel problem is like our approach to the nuclear program in Iran. We talk. We assert that the continuation of the settlement building is an obstacle to any talks about a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine. The government of Israel refuses to accept any limits on building new settlements. What can we do?
We don't have much leverage with Iran. With Israel, however, we have leverage that we haven't used. Israel can not exist without our yearly subsidy. Some of that money is used to build settlements. We could, in theory, cut off the subsidy until Israel quit the settlement building and agreed not to build any more. We could also insist that Israel accept the boundaries agreed to by the United Nations after the most recent war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Jews living in the settlements on the Palestine side of that border could be allowed to continue to live there if they wished, but they would be subject to Palestinian law and Palestinian police protection instead of protection by the Israeli Army which they now enjoy.
Jews should be able to live in peace in any part of the world they wish. However, just because a community is predominantly Jewish does not entitle it to become part of the state of Israel. Certainly no one would propose annexing the Jewish section of Brooklyn to Eretz Israel. Why, then, should Hebron become part of Israel - or Arab East Jerusalem, for that matter?