Iran-Israel tensions

The Real Mid-East Menace

rouhani_reuters-DISTORTED
The friendly face of Iran? President Hassan Rouhani.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Iran continues to threaten Israel, and will be in a stronger position to do so if E.U. negotiations over its nuclear program fail.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Iran’s new “modernizing” president is sticking to the country’s hardline stance on Israel.
    • The country has strong influence over political groups in Lebanon, Gaza and Syria, which border Israel.
    • It can only be tamed with help from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the author argues.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The devastating campaign by Islamic State is receiving most attention recently in the Middle East, where its terrorists are grimly determined to expel all minorities from their sphere of influence.

However, Islamic State is not limiting its power grab to Syria and Iraq, whose political structures have been weakened by long wars. Its territorial ambitions extend much further, and the Jewish state of Israel is most certainly among the terrorists’ targets.

There is little doubt that Israel’s Arab neighbors, including Lebanon, with its many religious communities, and the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, are also threatened by Islamic State ideology.

But the greatest threat to Israel continues to be Iran. Unfortunately, the terrorist war conducted by the jihadists is obscuring this potentially much greater danger. The threat to Israel by Iran is in no way less today than in previous decades.

More than a year after the election of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, the hope for rapprochement between Israel and Iran has disappeared. The political moderation attributed to Mr. Rouhani is nowhere in evidence.

He acts toward Israel just like his predecessors did. He too is far from acknowledging the legitimacy of the Jewish state. Instead, Iran continues to perceive the Israeli government as the “root of all problems” in the Middle East.

 

The hope for rapprochement between Israel and Iran has disappeared.

This attitude, combined with Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear technology, is an immense threat to the Jewish people and to Israel. Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. In E.U. negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program, it is better to have made no deal than to be stuck with a bad one.

Extending those negotiations must not lead to a weakening of sanctions if nothing is offered in return by Iran. The trade-off must be a renunciation of the country’s nuclear program. There is reason to fear that without this quid pro quo, Israel’s interests will not be taken sufficiently into account.

Iran also exercises great influence in neighboring regions – including over Hamas in Gaza, the Shiite militia Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Assad regime in Syria. This encirclement by powers supported by Iran and who deny Israel any legitimacy represents a greater threat to the Jewish people than Islamic State.

The European Union should not be taken in by Iran’s canny negotiating. European foreign policy should focus more on increased collaboration with such regional powers as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. This can prevent the hegemony of Iran.

 

To contact the author: gastautor@handelsblatt.com

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