US, Europe, or Israel: Who’s pulling the Middle Eastern trigger? / News / The Foreigner

US, Europe, or Israel: Who’s pulling the Middle Eastern trigger?. Tensions are high in the Middle East since Israel’s military action against the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara. On one side sits unilateral European criticism, on the other Israeli extremists. Helge Lurås, advisor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), warns Europe of the dangers of demonising Israel. “Criticism of Israel has been suppressed since WWII. The recent incident involving the Gaza blockade made Israeli censure legitimate all of a sudden. There’s a danger the pendulum could swing too far in the opposite direction,” Lurås tells The Foreigner.Cornered It’s not just about the blockade, however, but pre-nuclear “joker in the pack” Iran. Lurås claims criticism has made many Israelis feel isolated, but they also feel intimidated by the prospect of Iran going atomic.

israel, iran, iraq, afghanistan, nuclear, bomb, middle, east, hamas, hezbollah, usa, europe, tensions, pressure, nupi, mavi, marmara, institute, international, affairs, norwegian



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US, Europe, or Israel: Who’s pulling the Middle Eastern trigger?

Published on Thursday, 17th June, 2010 at 15:50 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 17th June 2010 at 21:47.

Tensions are high in the Middle East since Israel’s military action against the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara. On one side sits unilateral European criticism, on the other Israeli extremists. Helge Lurås, advisor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), warns Europe of the dangers of demonising Israel.

IAF F-16 Netz used in Iran nuclear reactor bombing
IAF F-16 Netz used in Iran nuclear reactor bombing
Photo: MathKnight/Wikimedia Commons


“Criticism of Israel has been suppressed since WWII. The recent incident involving the Gaza blockade made Israeli censure legitimate all of a sudden. There’s a danger the pendulum could swing too far in the opposite direction,” Lurås tells The Foreigner.

Cornered

It’s not just about the blockade, however, but pre-nuclear “joker in the pack” Iran. Lurås claims criticism has made many Israelis feel isolated, but they also feel intimidated by the prospect of Iran going atomic.

He believes these two issues together could force Israel’s hand unless it feels it has US support, increasing the possibility of a unilateral strike against the country.

“Israel has no weapons to penetrate Iranian missile bunkers and has already asked the US for bunker-busting ammunition without success. Israel then has only two options. It can launch a nuclear strike, or use a conventional one to draw the US into the conflict. The tactic could work or fail.”

Though Iran has no defences against a US air-strike for now, Lurås believes any type of military action would have huge implications.

“Iran has several options. It could activate Hezbollah, increase support for Hamas, destabilise Iraq and Afghanistan, be more intimidating to Arab states, or stop the flow of 17 million barrels of oil out of the Persian Gulf,” he says.

But any military action would have to be taken in the presently vulnerable time before Iran acquired nuclear capability. Lurås believes Tehran has embarked on this path already, and believes the Israelis do too.

Limited value

In an effort to cool the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there have been many suggestions by European politicians for Israel to return to borders prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. Lurås doesn’t believe this will happen.

“I doubt very much they’d agree to borders even remotely resembling those of 1967. If they do, it will show uncertainty and weakness. Also, many Israelis feel if they gave a finger, the Arabs might try to grab the whole hand.”

He points out it would also be problematic from an Arab perspective and thinks the suggestion is too simple.

“It only serves the purpose of easing European minds about WWII and assuaging their feelings of guilt about establishing the State of Israel. Even if you could find Middle Eastern leaders who'd accept it, there’s still a simmering sense of unfairness amongst Arabs. They wouldn’t be satisfied with the ’67 borders, as they felt the injustice was already committed in 1948.”

There’s very little Europeans can do to help ease the regional situation other than by showing some kind of moderation and restraint in their criticism of Israel, according to Lurås.

Exodus

Calls for US pressure have also entered the arena, but Lurås isn’t optimistic about the outcome.

“I think, quite frankly, if the US sends clear signals that their special relationship with Israel is about to end, Israel may react in a drastic manner and try to attack Iran. It would want the bond to be re-established as strong and firm. If there was a unilateral strike, I also think the US might feel pushed to get behind Israel against Iran.”

He goes on to say he feels Israel really would prefer a US strike if necessary because of their superior technology, and to prevent them feeling isolated even further.

“If not, the sense of danger already present in Israel would increase. This would, in turn, lead to a rise in emigration by moderates, because a nuclear-armed Iran would be able to strike at any time,” says Lurås.

Read Helge Lurås’ letter to Dagbladet here.




Published on Thursday, 17th June, 2010 at 15:50 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 17th June 2010 at 21:47.

This post has the following tags: israel, iran, iraq, afghanistan, nuclear, bomb, middle, east, hamas, hezbollah, usa, europe, tensions, pressure, nupi, mavi, marmara, institute, international, affairs, norwegian.





  
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