While Israel is uncomfortable with Europe and America’s reconciliation with Iran after the election of moderate centrist as president, Hassan Rouhani, recent action on the Sinai Peninsula near Gaza by the Egyptian military shows wisdom in Israel’s reticence. It would appear that Rouhani could be nothing more than a figurehead who is not only not promising (necessarily) to remove his country’s nuclear weapons capacities, but also, continuing to support terror against the Jewish state, which actually increased in October.
“Iran will be judged by its actions and not by its presentations,” a senior Israeli official was quoted saying.
Wednesday, Oct. 16, Egypt’s army destroyed a smuggling tunnel on the Sinai side of Rafah Crossing. In September, Egyptian forces laid to waste 90 percent of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
Infiltrators entering Gaza through Egypt are not refugees seeking shelter in the Jewish state, they are terrorists joining ranks with Hamas. Hamas is mostly funded by Iran.
Therefore, the situation with Iran’s new president is significantly at odds with what former UK Foreign Secretary told a CNN anchor on Oct. 16: “You could do business with him, and we were able to do business with him…I very profoundly believe that [this] is a new chance for proper negotiations.”
At the P5+1 meetings in Geneva, Iranian diplomats made a PowerPoint presentation outlining possible nuclear energy negotiations. Though the Western nations involved were cautiously optimistic, no diplomatic moves have been made. Talks between Iran and Western nations will continue next month on November 7th.
Figurehead or not, truthteller or not, President Rouhani, could decide on a nonproliferation agreement yet have his decision overruled by other authorities in Tehran, namely the Ayatollah or the Revolutionary Guard. Therefore, be he a ‘good guy’ or a ‘bad guy’ in comparison to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whether or not he has the control to make good on political and diplomatic claims has yet to be seen and it is unlikely such peaceful actions will be permitted by all who call the shots.
On the other hand, by backing President Rouhani, Ayatollah Khamenei may be bound to do what he can in order to ease the heavy sanctions.
Yet let’s not speculate; with terror on the rise in Israel, and given the amount of sponsorship private and government-funded Iranians have allotted to Palestinian terrorists, now is not the time to be anything but cautiously optimistic about Iran’s willingness to cease producing nuclear energy and accept the Jewish state. The world should be on guard.
Israel Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, for instance, sees and hears beyond Rouhani’s shallow rhetoric. He told a Russian newspaper, “All the Iranian President had to do was to say a few words, and the whole world immediately forgot that the concept of Iranian democracy is quite unusual.” he said. “They elect a President from a list of candidates approved by spiritual leaders. Many candidates are basically barred from running. The world seemed to have forgotten about Iran’s military nuclear program, which is still under way, and this is not just Israel saying so. The IAEA and other international agencies gathering intelligence on this program say so.”
In September, Noam Katz of Israel’s military PR, posted a faux LinkedIn account of President Rouhani.
For Rouhani’s title, the page names the “President of Iran, Expert Salesman, PR Professional and Nuclear Proliferation Advocate.” Skills: “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” “Ballistics,” and “Military Justice.”
The bio: “Since my election as President of Iran in 2013, I developed and executed an unprecedented PR campaign for the government of Iran. Through a series of statements, tweets, op-eds and smiles I have re-branded the human rights suppressing Ayatollah led regime as moderate and a source of hope among the international community.”
Israeli officials also boycotted Rouhani’s UN speech in September.
Those who wish to believe the words of Hassan Rouhani and accuse Israel’s agitprop campaign of being paranoid and overly aggressive, are mistaken.
“Israel will stand alone if it needs to” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a press gathering, referring to the chances that Tehran and the West will suddenly make peace with one another. But it is increasingly likely that the more Israel prods and doubts, the more unfortunate truth they are able to uncover. This is evident by rising terrorism in Israel and the weakness and transparency of the rhetoric streaming from Iran’s new leadership. But why would Rouhani be able to sway Khamenei any more than Ahmadinejad was? Is it even clear that he’s interested in more than using duplicitous rhetoric to ease sanctions?
It is more likely Israel will persuade Western leaders to take a closer look.