Gordon MacMillan,  Iran,  Islamism,  Israel/Palestine

Peace now or war next year

“If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months”.

The Times leads its front page with this stark message from King Abdullah of Jordan as the Obama Administration puts the finishing touches to its peace plan for the Middle East, which will include plans for deals on Syria and Lebanon as well as the Palestinians.

With his line about “Arabs or Muslims” the King is clearly hinting at Iran. Maybe it’s alarmist, maybe it is an overly pessimistic take, I’m not sure, but it certainly underlines well enough what is at stake for Obama and the US as they take their turn at solving the Middle East question.

The timetable for a string of begins today as Binyamin Netanyahu arrives in Cario for talks with President Hosni Mubarak. Netanyahu wants Egypt and other moderates on board to block  Iran. Then the Isreali prime minister is off to Washington next week before the show moves back to Cario as Obama makes his address to the Muslim world on June 4.  An “ich bin ein Berliner” for Obama and our times?

“What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese,” the King, who worked on the plan with Obama, told the paper.

“We are offering a third of the world to meet them with open arms,” said the King. “The future is not the Jordan river or the Golan Heights or the Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic and Indonesia in the Pacific. That is the prize.”

In the full transcript the King talks about this not being a “two state solution”, but a “57-state solution”.

Whatever happens, Netanyahu has already said that he has no intention of leaving the Golan Heights. No Golan means no Syria, but then that nut was always going to be as tough as all the others in this patch work that needs to be threaded together before it can be cracked.