May 11 2009
Netanyahu-Mubarak Talks Aim to produce a united Arab-Israeli Front versus Iran.
If successful, Binyamin Netanyahu’s first meeting as Israeli prime minister with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak at Sharm el Sheikh Monday, May 11, may well mark an epic turning-point in Middle East history recalling the 1979 peace breakthrough with Egypt. Their common goals – and Mubarak speaks for the Saudi king Abdullah on this issue – are the formation of an Arab-Israeli front against Iran and putting a spoke in US president Barack Obama’s planned détente with Tehran.
Most of all, the Netanyahu government utterly rejects the Palestinian-Iran tradeoff proposed by the Obama administration – and reaffirmed by US National adviser Gen. James Jones Sunday – that a two state-solution would diminish Iran’s existential threat to Israel.
“For the first time in my lifetime,” Arabs and Jews see a common danger.
This was no idle talk. DEBKAfile‘s military and intelligence sources report that the groundwork for the Mubarak-Netanyahu tête-à-tête was laid by Egypt’s intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman in the two days he spent in Jerusalem on April 22-23.
Officially, the Palestinians were the purpose of his talks – Suleiman has long acted as middleman between feuding Palestinian factions. In fact, Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas were the subjects of his intense discussions with Israel’s government heads and his opposite numbers in Mossad, military intelligence and the General Security Service (Shin Bet). They covered the Radical Four’s next moves and their potential military responses to a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear and strategic and infrastructure.
When Israeli launched its Gaza offensive against Hamas on Dec. 27, 2008, Jerusalem and Cairo were closely aligned on the various phases of warfare. For the duration of the 22-day conflict, Israel kept Egypt abreast of the action and Cairo updated Riyadh. This was Israel’s first operation against an Arab target to be backed by an Egyptian-Saudi consensus.DEBKAfile
The Israeli military venture with its collaboration with Egypt won the approval of the US president, then George W, Bush. For the Gaza operation, US approval was withdrawn by the new man in the White House. But the setback in Washington only served to spur the three silent partners’ motives for working together when their interests converge, this time against Iran’s rise as a nuclear and regional power.
The Obama administration’s outreach to Tehran and rehabilitation of Damascus served as a catalyst, accelerated by broad hints of US willingness to approve engagement with Hizballah and Hamas.
Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi rulers presume Washington has abdicated its commitment to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and a lead-position in the Middle East.
They take this retreat as a step toward America’s reconciliation with the Islamic Republic. All three oppose this policy and resent being cast to the political and military sidelines of the region in the US president’s consciousness.
His (Obama’s) emissaries failed to allay these concerns when they circulated around Arab capitals in the last fortnight. It was pointed out to them that the new US administration had not lifted a finger to slow Iran’s nuclear development in its first 100 days. If the issue was dropped to the bottom of Washington’s agenda with Tehran, it would be too late.
Israel was ready to pay a steep price for Egypt’s tacit and practical support by halting its Gaza operation last January short of the goals of crushing Hamas and overthrowing its government. Netanyahu has bought the proposition that he will have to pay Mubarak again in the coin of concessions to the Palestinians when they meet in Sharm el-Sheikh Monday.
In strategic-historic terms, he believes that would be a more advantageous deal than succumbing to American arm-twisting. After all, Cairo and Riyadh are willing to stand up shoulder to shoulder with Israel against Iran – unlike the Obama administration. DEBKA
Netanyahu’s new approach to peace ignores Obama’s pro-Iranian terrorist goals.
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