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Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem Is Necessary for Regional Stability—and Arab Rulers Know It

Nov. 16 2017

Revisiting this summer’s Temple Mount crisis—when a Palestinian terrorist attack prompted new Israeli security measures, which in turn prompted more Palestinian violence—Eran Lerman situates it in the context of the geopolitical and ideological rivalries that divide the Middle East as a whole. The violence was largely incited by Hamas and its Israeli Arab equivalent, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement. Both organizations are part of a larger camp consisting of Qatar, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other side are the “moderate” Sunni states, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. The latter group, which has grown increasingly friendly to Israel, wants to maintain the current situation on the Mount, with Israel and Jordan sharing control over the holy places lest these be seized by the Brotherhood. Lerman explains:

Relinquishing Israel’s sovereignty over the Holy Basin and the Temple Mount would result in Palestinian takeover of all the holy sites. Yasir Arafat, after all, liked to compare himself to Caliph Omar (the [7th-century] Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem), who signed a treaty with the Christians in the city without addressing any Jewish rights. . . . Under these circumstances, if Israel ever relinquished control, Jordan would lose its status and legitimacy. Under pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood camp (which, without the help of Israel, the Palestinian Authority would not be able to withstand), the Temple Mount would become a pivotal historic symbol of the victory of radical Islam.

This is a result that most of the Arab world today would view as disastrous. Israel’s sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem, especially in the Holy Basin, is therefore the vital cornerstone for continued viability of the [moderate Sunni] camp and for the prospect of regional stability. This will remain true as along as Israel’s leadership continues to act cautiously, judiciously, and with an informed assessment of internal Arab dynamics. . . .

[The events this summer] indicate that the key elements in the regional political arena are not enthusiastic about investing extraordinary efforts in order to achieve a permanent final-status agreement that would lead to a solution to [the Israel-Palestinian conflict]. But they do have a clear interest . . . in sagacious management by Israel of the situation in the territories and in Jerusalem, without letting intermittent skirmishes deteriorate into high-visibility conflict. [Such a deterioration] would only play into the hands of hostile elements from the radical camps.

Viewed in this light, Israel’s decision to remove the security cameras it installed on the Temple Mount should be seen not as a shameful capitulation to Palestinian demands—as some on the Israeli right have argued—but as a willing compromise in order to maintain good relations with Jordan and its allies, which need to deliver symbolic concessions to their populations.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Israel & Zionism, Middle East, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian terror, Temple Mount

 

In Dealing with Iran, the U.S. Can Learn from Ronald Reagan

When Ronald Reagan arrived at the White House in 1981, the consensus was that, with regard to the Soviet Union, two responsible policy choices presented themselves: détente, or a return to the Truman-era policy of containment. Reagan, however, insisted that the USSR’s influence could not just be checked but rolled back, and without massive bloodshed. A decade later, the Soviet empire collapsed entirely. In crafting a policy toward the Islamic Republic today, David Ignatius urges the current president to draw on Reagan’s success:

A serious strategy to roll back Iran would begin with Syria. The U.S. would maintain the strong military position it has established east of the Euphrates and enhance its garrison at Tanf and other points in southern Syria. Trump’s public comments suggest, however, that he wants to pull these troops out, the sooner the better. This would all but assure continued Iranian power in Syria.

Iraq is another key pressure point. The victory of militant Iraqi nationalist Moqtada al-Sadr in [last week’s] elections should worry Tehran as much as Washington. Sadr has quietly developed good relations with Saudi Arabia, and his movement may offer the best chance of maintaining an Arab Iraq as opposed to a Persian-dominated one. But again, that’s assuming that Washington is serious about backing the Saudis in checking Iran’s regional ambitions. . . .

The Arabs, [however], want the U.S. (or Israel) to do the fighting this time. That’s a bad idea for America, for many reasons, but the biggest is that there’s no U.S. political support for a war against Iran. . . .

Rolling back an aggressive rival seems impossible, until someone dares to try it.

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy