The Tehran tangle in Middle East peace

Success in the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will depend on active bridging by the third party, the United States. At the same time, we should not forget the destructive role played in the past and present by spoilers on both sides, as well as others further afield. As the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, stated last month, “the enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and derail these talks”.

Regionally, Iran is pressing ahead with its nuclear programme. In the words of its foreign minister, it will continue to enrich uranium despite receiving Russian fuel for its nuclear reactor. This has become a high priority strategic concern for the US and its allies, who believe Iran’s real intention is to build nuclear weapons.

Zalman Shoval, a former Israel ambassador to the US who is close to power circles in Jerusalem, remarked that “the Obama administration felt that progress on the peace process would set the stage for an effective regional coalition against Tehran. The Israeli approach was the exact opposite, stressing that if Iran’s nuclear programme were neutralised, then that would set the stage for a real peace process, since that would weaken the most radicalised elements in the Arab world who sought to actively undermine any prospects for peace, especially Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria.”

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