Skip to comments.Iraqi Move Puts Israel In Lonely U.S. Corner; Peres: Ousting Saddam a 'Must'
Posted on 09/19/2002 4:28:48 PM PDT by RCW2001
UNITED NATIONS Saddam Hussein's surprise acceptance of "unconditional" United Nations weapons inspections put Israel on the hot seat this week, forcing it into the open as the only nation actively supporting the Bush administration's goal of Iraqi regime change.
Israel and its supporters have insisted for weeks that while they sympathize with the administration's hard-line stance toward Baghdad, they were reluctant to advocate any position openly. The reluctance was fueled by fears that critics would claim the United States was going to war on Israel's behalf or even, as some have suggested, at Israel's behest.
But Israel's diffident stance appeared untenable this week after most capitals welcomed the Iraqi announcement Monday that it would accept the return of weapons inspectors without conditions. The Iraqi gambit seems to have reversed the momentum created by President Bush's forceful speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 12 and left only Jerusalem, and to a lesser extent London, backing Washington in its determination for regime change in Iraq.
"The campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must," Foreign Minister Shimon Peres flatly told reporters this week in New York, after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors."
"Saddam Hussein is the dictator with the worst record," Peres said. "This is not a war against Iraq. It is a campaign against Saddam Hussein."
While the dramatic shift at the U.N. has pushed Jerusalem closer to Washington, diplomats and observers warned that it might increase American pressure on Israel both to moderate its stance toward Iraq and to soften its views on talks with the Palestinians.
In particular, observers pointed to heightened American fears of an Israeli retaliation to an Iraqi attack provoking a regional escalation especially at a time when the U.S. appears to be unexpectedly isolated in its confrontation with Baghdad.
"The U.S. would not welcome Israeli participation because it is not needed and would only complicate the political reaction from the Arabs," said Vincent Cannistraro, former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism division. "It would also likely hurt Kuwait and Qatar, two Arab countries from which U.S. force will be deployed."
The same dangers would exist, several observers said, in the event of a total collapse of ongoing Israeli discussions with the Palestinians. Arab politicians, including King Abdullah of Jordan, have speculated that Israel might use the disruption of an American-Iraqi war to move against the Palestinians, warning that such an Israeli move would provoke "chaos."
Israeli officials acknowledged this week that they had received indications of American nervousness, though it was unclear whether or not there had been a formal American request for Israeli restraint on either front.
In the months leading up to this week's U.N. drama, Israeli officials have warned more than once that Israel would retaliate in the event of an Iraqi strike, hinting that they believed Washington would not object. Last week, however, Israel's military chief of staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Ya'alon, told the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee that "America would be very happy if we are not involved in this attack, at least at this stage."
"Let them do the job alone," Ya'alon told lawmakers, according to Israeli news reports.
Israel's new ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, quickly responded to Ya'alon's reported comments by telling reporters that Washington had not asked Israel to stay out of any military action against Iraq.
Gregg Sullivan, a State Department spokesman, confirmed that there were "no indications" that Washington had asked Israel to refrain from retaliating to an Iraqi attack.
"I suppose we'll talk about implications later on," he added.
Peres, asked whether Washington had made a formal request for Israeli restraint, remained vague.
"I would leave it to the circumstances," he said. "There are so many variations that it would be unwise to elect one."
He said that in the event of a war, however, Israel would behave as a "responsible soldier and a loyal one."
"There will be one war and one command," he said. "We don't suggest there will be two wars and two commands. Within that, Israel will take all the measures to defend itself and Powell said the U.S. would also take measures to protect us."
On Friday, an Iraqi cabinet minister threatened that Baghdad would attack Israel if it took part in an American military strike. Israel "will suffer a profound and an unforgettable strike if it interferes in the war," Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mahdi Saleh told the United Arab Emirates newspaper Al-Khaleej.
In another nod to Washington's concerns, Peres said Israel would not halt ongoing discussions with the Palestinians in the event of a war.
"The Israeli policy is clear. We are not going to link the Palestinian issue to the Iraqi one, and we will continue our talks with the Palestinians no matter what happens," he said.
Sullivan, the State Department spokesman, said Washington had asked Israel to continue discussions with the Palestinians regardless of whether or not there is a war with Iraq.
Last weekend, Americans started providing security training to some 30 Palestinians, mostly members of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, with Egyptian and Jordanian assistance and partial Saudi financing.
Diplomats agreed that Iraq had managed at least momentarily to halt the momentum created by Bush's speech last week at the U.N.
"Saddam was very clever on this one," a diplomat at the U.N. told the Forward. "He knows that most countries want the inspectors back in quickly but that only America and to a lesser degree Great Britain are demanding regime change."
After Iraq agreed to admit U.N. weapons inspectors without conditions, Washington dismissed the move as a tactic meant to split the Security Council and called for a new council resolution spelling out in precise terms the steps Iraq needs to take to meet U.N. demands.
While British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed what he called a "high degree of skepticism" toward Iraqi compliance, Russia and China said the Iraqi acceptance of inspections was a victory for concerted international efforts.
"Now our main task is to ensure that the inspectors can get to Iraq as soon as possible and start their work," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters.
France held the middle ground, saying that the U.N. must take Iraq at its word and send inspectors, but that the U.N. must also hold Saddam to his words.
Despite the swirling debate, Sullivan said there were no substantial differences among council members. While he acknowledged Washington was the only country openly advocating regime change, he said it was a natural consequence of U.N. resolutions.
Nevertheless, he said the administration was willing to give the inspections "one last chance."
"We are ready to do it, although we are very skeptical and we believe Saddam will thwart them like he did in the past," he added. "When he fails, we will need to use other means."
The diplomat at the U.N. said that even if Washington agrees to the return of inspectors, there would still be a strong likelihood that disagreements would surface between Washington and Baghdad, either during negotiations over the scope of the inspectors' mandate or after the inspectors hit the ground in Iraq.
It is quite obvious that events are moving too quickly for the Lefties to respond intelligently. Bush is playing a game of "rapid transit" chess and they can't think fast enough. Unprincipled, the Left doesn't know what to say or what move to make from day to day--and it shows.
In other news, I saw your other home, LibertyForum, got tagged with an official hate site classification today. Way to go, and congrats to the employers who won't have their productivity impaired by employees hobnobbing with David Duke wannabes.
I'm not sure why you are "congrat..ing" the employers as I'm sure they had very little to do with it.
I must agree however that employees shouldn't have their hand in their employers pocket by 'surfing' on company time.
And finally, yes LibertyForum.org is an entertaining and open forum where debate isn't stifled, hence some of the rhetoric gets a bit 'overbearing'.
I can deal with the 'overbearing' but I can see how some, such as yourself perhaps, would require that some special committee and filter decide for you...what you can view and access. If your comfortable with that, well...so am I.
This is a benefit to them, so why are they not to be congratulated? I mean, that particular filter seems to be aimed mostly at businesses, even though it also seem to share data with all the others.
hence some of the rhetoric gets a bit 'overbearing'.
Oh, I can always join in the "fun". Ain't a filter built that applies to me ;).
No, as for what happened, I just noticed LF was behaving like an anthill that someone poured gasoline on. It's positively heartwarming :)).
It's the ONLY corner Israel has as an option...beggers can't be choosers, eh?
pouring it on isn't the "fun of it"..."tossing the match" is!
What does that say about the sordid, craven, fools in the U.N. (Kofi Annan, France, Russia and Schroder) and the American Left?
Really stinky, slimy, smelly stuff (I know, there are those in Berkley who think it can be converted to energy).
The LF versión of free speech is, in fact, anarchy, and the pond scum rises to the top, as in any small, fetid pond. Consolation for the skunks and skunk apes of the internet, Im sure.
The cure, the light of day, circulation, sunshine, healthy plant and fish life.
Hate site, Im sure its a symbol of pride to the denizens of LF, they can brag to their like minded friends (the only ones allowed) about their versión of liberty.
Seig Heil, Madame Defarge.
Gotta spend more time with those 'Hooked on Phonics' tapes, I thought it said OUTING Saddam a 'Must'.
Apparently, to some. ;)
FNA RCW. Beggers can't be choosers, so they choose America. You don't seem very proud of America and her allies. You don't seem to like America much.
Oh well, I suspect America will survive without the support of the RCW's of the world.
Don't forget to chect SFgate and Haaertz in the AM, good hunting, I look forward to your posts, though I admit there are better things than the smell of liberal theology in the morning.
Clean it up please, this isn't a porno site.