The Obsessive-Compulsive Israeli Settlement Talks

Berlin — Israel’s ten-month moratorium on new settlement construction in the disputed West Bank territories expired on Sunday. The Obama administration’s intense preoccupation with turning the end of Israeli settlement construction into the sine qua non of Middle East peace has come to resemble the meaningless rituals of obsessive-compulsive disorder, like OCD sufferer who repeatedly cleanses his hands but refuses to embrace the discomfort of the actual dirty work of treatment.

The hard and uncomfortable dirty work underlying the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, for Obama, is to take a more confrontational posture toward the Iranian regime. A more assertive strategy would entail a waterproof embargo of Iran’s regime, and the formulation of a military strategy to end its illicit nuclear-weapons facilities. Iran’s drive to go nuclear and its financial support of the Islamic terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah (and the Syrian regime) remain the key impediments to meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

As Benny Avni wrote in last Friday’s New York Post, “Obama devoted just two paragraphs to Iran” in his U.N. speech and “10 long paragraphs praising the virtues of future Israeli-Arab peace.” All of this helps to explain that the Mideast peace talks are front and center in Obama’s thinking, whereas the highly belligerent mullah regime is a series of footnotes.

The New York Times columnist Roger Cohen perhaps best personifies the fundamentally misguided obsession with settlements instead of the Iranian threat. Cohen, who is considered by many Iranian dissidents in Germany and the U.S. to be a heavyweight appeaser of the Iranian regime, spilled over into a hysterical fit last week and said that, in dealing with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “Obama must now break some bones to get his way.”

In sharp contrast to Cohen, Clifford D. May neatly captured in his column why Obama and an anonymous former head of a U.S.-allied state have been lulled into a delusional doctrine, i.e., that Mideast talks take priority over Iranian jingoism.

In short, it’s the Iranian regime — and not the construction of housing projects — that is the be-all and end-all of obstacles to peace in the region.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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