Are all options for Iran really on the table?

Are all options for Iran really on the table?

By Andrea Diamond, The Times of Israel 

05.03.2012
via The Times of Israel (click here for the published article
 
“I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.” – President Obama, AIPAC policy conference 04.03.12
 
All options?
 
This week marks AIPAC’s annual policy conference that brings together thousands of pro-Israel supporters in America. Yet again we can expect to hear all over the media about one specific issue – the Iranian nuclear threat. This year the threat seems to be more imminent than ever with policy discussions now changing from “if” a strike is viable, to “when” and “how” a strike will occur.
 
So as Israelis scramble to get their international passports in order, we must ask ourselves one thing – Are we doing our utmost to stop such an existential threat to the State of Israel? Sure we’ve tried for negotiations, international sanctions, targeted assassinations, and rallying the international community. But the imminent threat continues to grow.
 
Israel is not the only country apprehensive about a nuclear Iran – Sunni Arab countries everywhere are feeling the threat more than ever. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the pillar of Sunni Islam and one of the strongest countries in the region, have been mounting.  Should we not be joining forces against a common enemy?   These countries are crucial in their ability to contain the Iranian regime’s regional ambitions. As we can learn from recent history, the first Gulf War in 1991 shows how effective an international coalition with Arab states can be in impeding tyrants in the region. The Gulf War coalition served to further isolate Iraq in the region and provide legitimacy for the actions of the United States. Should Israel be able to form a broad coalition with the Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and the UAE, Israel could ostensibly create an even larger threat in the face of an Iranian one and gain legitimacy for its actions.
 
So how do we get the Arab states on board with Israel? Simple… sign a peace agreement.
 
In 2002 the Arab League presented a comprehensive peace initiative in attempts to reach regional Middle East peace. The agreement calls for normalization of relations with Israel within the framework of a comprehensive peace agreement.  The initiative was again re-adopted in 2007. The point here is not the issues of the agreement but rather the gesture – make peace with the Palestinians and the entire Arab region will conduct normal relations with the State of Israel.
 
Beyond the common but very relevant arguments that the peace process is necessary for Israel to remain Jewish and Democratic, it seems the peace process can also save Israel from another existential threat. Normalized relations with the Arab world would facilitate a huge and powerful coalition against the Iranian regime. In light of this, Ahmadinejad’s domestic rhetoric against Israel would become irrelevant and his already loose grip on power in Iran could easily shift to more moderate voices.
 
Almost all of us understand what a final peace agreement based on a two-state solution will look like. Following the Clinton parameters, the Taba agreements and the Geneva Initiative model, today the majority of Israelis and Palestinian support a two-state solution based on these parameters.  Ask yourself this, what’s scarier? A demilitarized Palestinian state or a nuclear Iran?  If peace must be viewed as a hard concession, doesn’t this step dwarf that of the threat of a nuclear Iran?
 
Andrea Diamond, Director of Foreign Relation for the Geneva Initiative in Israel