March 1, 2010

Israel Lays Cards on China's Table

Was it an act of impatience? Defiance? Desperation? Or coordination?

The Haaretz has reported that Israel’s recent delegation to China gave the “the most detailed overview” of Iran’s nuclear program “since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s visit in January 2007.”

Going to the source is logical with UN sanctions to be voted upon in the coming month or two. Israel doesn’t have any time to waste in wooing China with Russia slow to toe its line and when America, as far as the public knows, hasn’t budged China’s position.

And so Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon and central bank chief Stanley Fischer found themselves in Beijing last week to give, according to one source, "the full intelligence picture available to Israel.”

Pictures that “clearly show Iran is developing nuclear weapons.”

Perhaps just as logical, but also far riskier, is the reality that forced Israel to lay a few cards on the table of this end game. Israel couldn’t have shown China “everything,” only a glimpse of the final act. But Israel isn’t mincing words - pictures are worth more than a thousand at this stage in the crisis.

Consequently, China’s recently acquired secret gives it a new power. Already holding a decisive position in the UN when it comes to Iran, China can make or break Israel’s final attempt at multilateralism if Russia fell in line - and could leave America holding the bag if it chose.

Israel’s move is the most conclusive sign yet that the end game over Iran is actually approaching.

The past is littered with false omens, but Israel going to China doesn’t appear to be one of them. Impatience and desperation certainly, yet these elements only increase the demand for coordination. Israel hasn’t necessarily gone around America. Unless the White House got wind and sent a team afterward, Israel was the first part of a choreographed one-two punch.

US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Senior White House Asia adviser Jeffrey Bader have landed in Beijing for four days after China accepted a US offer “for dialogue.” A wide range of issues are on the table, arranged on the general premise of patching up relations after conflict over Taiwan and the Dalia Lama.

But only one topic seems on the table. The US officials are expected to raise “issues of mutual concern, such as Iran's nuclear program.”

Washington at its ugliest. Bader the "China hand" nested himself in Brookings between his Clinton and Obama years; pro-Israel is a label that sticks with that background. His partner, now Deputy State Secretary, happens to function as Obama’s point man in China.

Steinberg is also one of three alleged hands behind Obama’s keynote speech to AIPAC, the speech where he gave away Jerusalem to Israel before quickly retreating the next day. With this success Steinberg was assured a position of power in the White House.

With his promotion partly, if not primarily based on his Israeli-Chinese connection, Israel’s actions reveal the latest episode of how dirty US-Israeli relations have become.

In the West Bank, Israeli police have arrested close to a dozen Palestinians on the Temple Mount. As a reaction to Israel’s claim to religious sites in Hebron, Palestine has moved its cabinet to the city in protest. Dubai has 100% proof of the Mossad.

Israel has done nothing for anyone, so why does it expect action from the West, Russia, and China on Iran? Is Israel’s visit to China, deep down, a sign of disrespect against America?

Going to door to door to Arab states and Europe, now Russia and China, begging them to betray Iran, and dragging America behind it the whole time. As Australia remarked, "some friend." Israel's thoughts are revealed as it plays its cards, and clearly it believes it has America in shackles.

Obama has stayed silent on the method and murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Caught between two types of morals, the ethics of justice and international law, and between Israel, Europe, and the UAE, he cannot come out against al-Mabhouh, “a terrorist.” And yet he cannot publicly condone Israel because of its breach in the international community.

But America and Israel’s silence comes with side effects.

The void open, Dubai Police Chief Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim has eagerly filled the stage by, “slowly dripping out information about the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh to keep the issue alive and make Israel squirm,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

CNN quoted Tamim Sunday as saying that he is now “100 percent sure” the Mossad was behind the assassination. “I used to say 99 percent, but now I can say 100 percent.”

“The Mossad needs to be ashamed of its actions,” Tamim was quoted as saying.

Obviously that would never happen, the only shame coming from not doing a cleaner job. But while the international community has done a decent in the media, if insufficient job in the international courts, at holding Israel accountable over state-sponsored assassinations, America is a total no-show.

All Washington can do is fly to China and pressure it on Iran, once again rewarding Israel for bad behavior. Amira Hess accounts the events of February 24th in Palestine in an unusually scathing report from the Haartez.

“212 occupation-related incidents were recorded: four physical assaults, eight military shooting attacks, 39 army raids, 28 arrests, and 12 detentions at checkpoints and in residential areas. The items on the checklist include home demolition (none that day), the leveling of agricultural land (one, in Gaza), and construction of the separation wall (at 22 locations).”

Not to mention destruction of property and subcategories of closure: checkpoints, roads, crossings.

"The year 2009 was the quietest for Israelis from the security point of view and the most violent for the Palestinians from the point of view of attacks by settlers in the West Bank,” Palestinian Agriculture Minister Ismail Daiq said recently.

The latest events in Jerusalem passed safety over the weekend, a US government media blackout, but the West Bank has been ignited for a week without any high level response from Washington.

We cannot say a two-state solution would resolve the Iran threat against Israel, but it’s hard to argue it would not decrease. The reality is that Israel is both stalling negotiations on Palestine and demanding sanctions on Iran. Eventually war.

The Israeli source added. "The delegation [to China] also stressed how concerned Israel was, and that all options must remain on the table."

Israel hasn’t just opened the door for a “No,” by appealing to China. Its cards tell the world that the only future it cares about is a military one, which America is enabling. So what if Iran is building a nuclear weapons program?

If Israel really cared about “world peace,” as it’s now appealing to, it would start in Palestine, not China.


  1. This Holbrooke junket might also have been cover. I am sure Iran came up in his discussions. Interesting note, the author says Shillary will run for president in 2012, and Holbrooke will replace her as Sec. of State. I agree with him on this. Of course if she does run that can only mean one thing. Obamas foreign policy is in total shambles, or WE ARE AT WAR. It is becoming to be more likely now that we will be at a new front. Friday night I was watching a news show on pbs. Pat Buchannan equated the health care problem to Iran. Basically saying that Obama will cover all angles, and options, and excuses before the final decision is made. This was telling me that Buchannan believes Obama will attack Iran at his timing.

  2. Like health care, Iran is largely outside Obama's own hands, and yet he still may serve as executor. We've been waiting for Israel to make its final moves and going to China is one of them - the situation is getting more out of control by the month. Khamenei's words have aggravated Russia and not many options remain if China blocks Israel's desired sanctions, nor do sanctions guarantee deterrence. Obama is likely to hold the red light for as long as he can - so he can fight Afghanistan without distraction. Thus a green light for a new war could come right after another war takes a positive turn.

    That is the real cycle you fear, is it not?

    Still, I really cannot see Hillary campaigning against Obama in 2012, not when he dons the "War Time President" cape. But she does love power and I must admit, Holbrooke and her are far too close to rule out hooking up at that high a level.

  3. Exactly, this is the fear and expectation at the same time. If the next objective is Kandahar then they will be busy for a very, very long time. The dilemma O faces is that if he is projected as weak, [not attacking Iran] he loses. If it looks like he is losing in AF/PAK HE IS OUT. No bump in the economy he is out. Too many outs for him.

  4. have you seen anything about Dennis Ross? He helped write that aipac speech. he is the one to watch for.