The press has had a field day with the recent diplomatic friction between Israel and the United States over building in east Jerusalem, and many Jewish leaders here are justifiably worried. That alliance is a critical pillar in Israel’s security; anything that appears to weaken it is a matter of grave concern.
It’s important to remember that such controversies are perhaps inevitable in an alliance in which the parties sometimes have different priorities and face different domestic political realities even as they pursue shared goals.
We hope Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu was successful in defusing a crisis that threatens to blur the focus on the most pressing and immediate problem in the region — Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
While there is little doubt that finding a route to Israel-Palestinian peace is important for Israel’s future and for America’s diplomatic objectives in the region, nothing poses as great a threat to both as does the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran’s fundamentalist leaders.
Finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not solve the problem of a belligerent Iran that seeks nuclear weapons to threaten Israel and expand its hegemony over a Middle East, where U.S. interests are wide ranging. Bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table is unlikely to diminish Iran’s role in fomenting terror around the world. We have seen little evidence that the tyrannical leaders in Tehran have the slightest interest in the two-state solution advocated so vocally by this administration.
We are not suggesting that Washington’s quest for resumed negotiations is wasted energy. On the contrary, the security and future of the Jewish state depends on finding ways to live in peace with its neighbors. Achieving that goal will most likely require strong, persistent and far-sighted American leadership.
We are suggesting that for now, Iran must remain the top regional priority for Washington, as it is for an Israel that will be most directly threatened if Tehran achieves its goals.