It can’t be a coincidence that Hamas announced on Saturday its clashes with the Israelis in order to “deter Zionist arrogance and confront the occupation forces…and respond to the continued crimes of the ongoing occupation,” according to the Al Qassam Brigades statement, and at the same time Iran called on the Arab Summit in Libya to make tough decisions and “raise the alarm” to protect Jerusalem. The reason we say this can’t be a coincidence is because Hamas avoided responding to Israel for 14 months, so why now? What raises suspicion is the fact that there was disagreement within Hamas, and in some Palestinian factions, after Mahmoud al Zahhar’s statement in which he called for avoiding firing rockets towards Israel in order not to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an excuse to get out of the tense predicament he is in that has strained his relationship with President Barack Obama.
The truth is that there is nothing surprising about the positions of Hamas and the “sons” of Iran in our region as long as they do not face real Arab accountability, at least with regards to Arab public opinion, so that they bear the consequences of their actions. Some Arabs take advantage of Iran’s agents [in the region] in order to accomplish narrow interests and some others fear clashing with public opinion especially if it is enraged, forgetting that tears dry quickly and accordingly the facts on the ground remain visible to us and we suffer from them for a long time.
What the Arabs are not paying attention to today is the fact that the magnitude of Israeli tension does not only emanate from the Netanyahu-Obama dispute but also from the comments made by Chief of the US Central Command General Petraeus, who said in his last congressional testimony that the Arab-Israeli conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favouritism for Israel.” This was echoed by the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates who said, “There is no doubt that the lack of peace in the Middle East affects the interests of US national security.” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also agreed with this as he said, “It is a very, very serious issue and all of us would like to see progress there.” Those who monitor the Israeli press can feel the amount of tension and will notice the intensity of the attacks on General Petraeus.
An American source tells me that this issue is worrying the Israelis a great deal, especially when comments like these are made by military leaders and no one in the US administration is trying to soften this discourse or back down from it. Moreover, it also has historical dimensions as the former administration of Ronald Reagan (republican) resorted to using the same military expressions in the eighties when it expressed its belief that Israeli opposition to selling AWACS to Saudi Arabia threatened US security interests in the Middle East. My source told me that at the time Reagan’s team used the expression “Reagan or Begin” indicating the amount of defiance Reagan displayed against the Israeli lobby in Washington in order for the AWACS deal to be passed in Congress. Reagan won in the end.
Therefore, it is very important that the Arabs pay attention to the complexity of the current disputes between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, which might lead to the fall of Netanyahu’s right-wing alliance. Consequently, the Arabs must not give Iran and its “sons” in our region the opportunity to threaten our interests in order to serve Iran’s ambitious goals.