Could the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel lead to peace in the Middle East and the establishment of a Palestinian state?
David Samuels sees an Israeli attack on Iran as something that might be coming in the very near future:
Given Iran’s recent technological triumphs, like the launch of the Omid communications satellite earlier this year and the lack of ambiguity about the aims of the Iranian nuclear program, it is hardly apocalyptic to expect an attack within the next year—assuming that the Russians continue to dither about delivering S-300 surface-to-air missiles to protect Iranian nuclear sites. A stepped-up delivery date for large numbers of S-300 missiles could lead to an earlier attack.
Samuels also sees the result being (in exchange for peace) a Palestinian state:
Israel’s version of a nuclear grand bargain that brings peace to the Middle East may be messier and more violent than what the Obama administration imagines can be accomplished through sanctions, blandishments, and the invocation of Barack Obama’s magic middle name. But who can really argue with the idea of trading the Iranian nuclear bomb for a Palestinian state? Saudi Arabia would be happy. Egypt would be happy. Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates would be happy. Jordan would be happy. Iraq would be happy. Two-thirds of the Lebanese would be happy. The Palestinians would go about building their state, and Israel would buy itself another 40 years as the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East. Iran would not be happy.
But who said peace won’t have a price?
According to Samuels, Israeli leaders see a Palestinian state as inevitable, so why not turn its inevitability into a grand bargain that includes a weakened Iran that is defanged of its nuclear potential?:
The price of an Israeli attack on Iran is therefore clear to anyone who reads Al Ahram or the Guardian: a Palestinian state. It seems fair to say that both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak see the establishment of some kind of Palestinian state as inevitable and also as posing real security risks to Israel.
Yet, in a perverse way, the idea that the price of an attack on Iran will be the establishment of a Palestinian state makes the logic of such an attack even clearer. Israel’s leaders know that the security threats inherent in giving up most of the West Bank will be greatly augmented or diminished depending on how a Palestinian state is born.
We may be witnessing a very high stakes gamble on the part of Israel over the next year. And if Israel attacks Iran we may be surprised to find that Sunni Arabs are pleased to have their Shia rivals weakened. But we’ll see how it plays out.