We Can’t Separate the Iran Challenge from the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

By Ambassador Marc Grossman, CALME Luminary, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

I was intrigued by the September 13 column by David Ignatius in the Washington Post, “Bush’s Message to Iran,” which described Ignatius’s conversation with President Bush about Iran.  The President was persuasive explaining his decision to issue a visa to former Iranian President Khatami and clear that he seeks a diplomatic solution to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

I confess, however, to have hoped for one more element in the conversation between President Bush and Mr. Ignatius: a reaffirmation by the President of his commitment to an Israeli and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace in the Middle East, a position he courageously took in June of 2002.  This should be part of a conversation on the future of US-Iranian relations because the issues are connected. 

It would help us make our case to the people of Iran if our government was actively and openly – every day – working for two states.  I recognize the difficulties, and I do not underestimate them, but pursuing two states would help us not just with public opinion in Iran, but in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Jordan and in the rest of the Middle East and in countries as far afield as Indonesia and Malaysia.  People want America to take a principled stand – which President Bush has done by supporting two states – and then they want to see us achieve what we set our minds to.

No problem in the troubled region exists in a vacuum, and we fall further behind by thinking about them in isolation. 

Explore posts in the same categories: CALME Luminaries, Iran, Israel, Middle East Peace, Palestinians, U.S. Role

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