Barry Rubin had a very good column in the Jerusalem Post yesterday: Weakness and bad strategy. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but what struck me appears at the end, almost as an afterthought:
Partly due to its insolubility and partly to the many regional crises elsewhere, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to decline in regional importance.
As for the Arab-Israeli conflict (as distinct from the Israeli-Islamist or Israeli-Iran conflicts), it exists only in demagogic speeches and the illusions of Westerners who know little about the region.
The real threats to Israel come from the soon-to-be nuclear Iran, as well as the Islamist Hamas and Hezbollah, funded and supported by Iran. So making an agreement with the Palestinians, as Peretz would like to do, can only increase the threat as long as the Palestinians are dominated by Hamas. And the same goes for Syria, where Hezbollah’s influence grows from moment to moment.
For us in the United States, there’s a lesson as well. The line of reasoning so beloved by James Baker and his Saudi patrons that says that the Israel-Palestinian dispute is at the root of the conflict in the Middle East has got it backwards. Trying to fix the region by forcing Israel to make concessions is actually strengthening the enemies of the United States — radical Shiite Iran and Sunni Islamists, solidifying their control of the area rather than cooling the conflict down.