So — is there a connection between Palestine and Iran? Is there “linkage”?

Defense Minister Ehud Barak says no, and also believes the Americans should better understand this:

“It’s not as if the moment the last outpost is dismantled, for reasons of the rule of law and the country’s authority over its citizens, the Iranians will abandon their nuclear ambitions,” Barak said. “This is why these things need not be [presented as] directly interdependent.”

But does Prime Minister Netanyahu understand this simple truth? The answer is probably yes, but what he said yesterday might mislead the public into concluding otherwise:

“I identify the danger, and that’s why I am willing to take unpopular steps such as evacuating outposts. The Iranian threat is above everything,” Netanyahu reportedly said. “There are things on which you have to compromise.”

In fact, what’s happening here is fascinating: Israel started by claiming there is no linkage. Its position later evolved into there being linkage: “The road to Palestine goes through Tehran” and not the other way around. Americans, though, weren’t convinced. They insisted that traditional linkage is unavoidable in order to bring other Arab countries on board in stopping Iran. In essence, the Obama administration has argued that one can’t hope for Arab cooperation without showing progress on the Palestinian track. But now, as both Barak’s and Netanyahu’s statements demonstrate, we are at a new stage: Israel is the one admitting that there’s linkage. The irony though is that this concession comes not from Arabs’ demanding linkage, but rather because of Americans. Barak still hopes to reeducate the Obama administration. Netanyahu soberly admits defeat. Linkage is a fact of life not because of Iranians, Palestinians, or other Arab countries. It’s a fact of life because of, well, the Americans who believe in it.

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