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Goin to the dogs? (Image: Flickr)
The recent news of plans to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognise it as the capital of Israel has received international condemnation. Some have described it as a “new kind of racism”, others as an aggressive act. A more accurate, albeit less emotive, description would be “the United States, acting on the instructions of the United States president Donald Trump, who is in Israel for the sake of the president, as opposed to the people of the United States, who are in Israel as usual.”
Most of the people who will benefit from this shift in US foreign policy towards Israel are not the people of Israel, but the Zionist lobby in the United States – the largest political lobby in the world. Trump has given the green light to them to go ahead with this blatant violation of international law and, in doing so, has also made it possible for Israel to continue to develop nuclear weapons.
The embassy move in particular is intended to damage China and Russia, the two countries that support Palestine’s right to statehood, and that, in an effort to prevent the conflict from spilling into a third country, have tried to mediate between Israel and Palestine. At the same time, the embassy move is intended to send a message to the countries in the Middle East and Asia that the United States is once more prepared to be their ally in the Middle East. For this reason, it was designed as a direct slap in the face of Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah. And in addition, it will serve as a warning to countries in the Middle East, especially Egypt, that there is nothing to fear from the United States.
This latest move by the United States is a clear threat to the peace in the Middle East. It will only strengthen Hizbullah, Iran, Syria and Hamas, and it will isolate Israel internationally. It will be detrimental to any Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. What’s more, it will undermine any efforts by the Arab League to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. What can we expect? An agreement that is not fair, nor just and that can only lead to further conflict?
In any event, the fact that the US embassy is being moved to Jerusalem while the US is at the same time building settlements in the heart of the occupied Palestinian territories, is a clear violation of international law. It will bring the world one step closer to a third world war.
The US has always maintained that it will never recognize a Palestinian state as long as it has not been determined in a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The US, along with the other Western powers, is also a strong supporter of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. So what does the American administration intend to do? Will it maintain its commitment to the policy of non-recognition of a Palestinian state, as long as the Israeli settlements continue to expand? Does it plan to abandon the settlements as it did with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Will it allow Israel to take over any more of the Palestinian territories? Will it continue to fund the settler activities of the Israeli military? And will it force any withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and East Jerusalem? These are all important questions which the US is avoiding, and this is creating a sense of great uncertainty in the region.
What can we conclude from the fact that there is no response to the international condemnation of the move by the US?
First of all, the US is not ready to take responsibility for the consequences of its actions. Secondly, it is not interested in resolving the conflict. It is fully aware that this move will push the region towards conflict and war. It is acting irresponsibly by playing into the hands of Iran and the Palestinians by taking an aggressive position.
The US has long been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of the Palestinian territories. How do you see the consequences of this move?
The Israeli policy of annexation and expansion will have serious consequences for Israel, the Palestinians, and the region. The policy of the Israeli regime is a dangerous one and will create serious tensions.
Since the Israeli occupation began, there have been a lot of problems in the region and tensions between the two sides have never been so high. The Palestinian resistance has grown stronger, but the US has always been on its side. As a result, they have prevented any real peace negotiations. The Israeli occupation is also causing a serious rift between Egypt and Israel, which led to the ouster of the former Egyptian President and is likely to affect security in the region.
The move by the Israeli regime is a real threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. It is a threat to the very existence of the two-state solution. Such a situation can never be allowed to continue.
There has been a lot of focus on the US-Iran tensions over the nuclear deal. How do you view this move?
As you may know, the US imposed sanctions on Iran after it withdrew from the deal. The regime is under severe pressure because of these sanctions, and they are feeling the pinch. They now feel they need to do something to protect themselves. This is because they know that, since the deal is on the verge of collapse, the sanctions could be removed any time. This gives the regime a bargaining chip.
How do you assess the impact of the Arab sanctions on the Iranian nuclear deal?
They did not come out with a public announcement that they are imposing these sanctions, but many people in the region believe that Iran did not play fair in the nuclear deal. They believe that Iran gave up too much, especially because they were the only country who gave up their nuclear programme and kept it secret.
In the past, the countries that withdrew from the deal believed that other countries, including the US, would make up for their shortcomings and continue to ensure that the region is safe. However, in their attempt to get more concessions from the US, Iran's officials have made it clear that they will not play ball anymore.
This is why we believe that, in the long run, the sanctions have made the chances of a deal collapse even higher.
In your view, is Iran going to continue to pursue nuclear weapons?
Let's be clear. They have already declared that they will continue with their uranium enrichment programme.
This is why we believe that, in the long run, the sanctions have made the chances of a deal collapse even higher. And it is also why Israel is likely to continue to pursue their nuclear weapons programme.
How will the US handle the situation? Will the US allow the nuclear deal to collapse?
Of course, the US does not want to see Iran to have nuclear weapons. But if it is left with no other choice, they will not hesitate to destroy the deal, as they did with Libya.
They are likely to use various techniques to pressure Iran to make the conditions more difficult for them to implement the deal. In the past, we have seen US officials using a variety of sanctions to target Iran. They have put pressure on the country's financial institutions, its petrochemical industry and even its banks.
As the US tries to pressure Iran to make changes to the nuclear deal, the Iranians are also likely to respond. But the question is what would be the worst that could happen if the nuclear deal is broken?
We have learned from the past that once the US is left with no other options, they are very likely to launch a military attack on Iran.
So, what could we expect if the US attacks Iran? What would be the cost?
We have seen Iran respond to the US sanctions by increasing their activities related to the war