Friday, October 28, 2005

Arab States Mum on Iran's Israel Remarks

AP reports:

Arab governments remained silent Thursday as international condemnation grew over a call by Iran's new president for Israel to be destroyed.

Despite the silence, analysts in the region said Tehran's Arab rivals may quietly be pleased to see the radical regime further isolated by its extremism.

However, some Palestinians - who would have the task of destroying Israel according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - rejected the remarks.

"We have recognized the state of Israel and we are pursuing a peace process with Israel, and ... we do not accept the statements of the president of Iran," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. "This is unacceptable."

Egyptian Foreign Ministry and Cabinet officials said Cairo would have nothing to say on the address.

Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher also declined comment, apparently to avoid further aggravating relations with Iran, which the kingdom has accused of interfering in Iraq to strengthen the Shiite influence in the Middle East.

Analysts said Ahmadinejad's uncompromising line highlighted Iran's differences with other Middle East governments and will make it easier for the international community to take a tough line against Iran for its defiant nuclear policy.

Mohammed Wahby, a former diplomat and member of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Affairs, said it was a mistake to remain quiet about the speech, which he said undermined Mideast peace prospects.

"Recognizing Israel as an integral part of the Middle East is no longer in doubt," he said, saying Iran was only encouraging hard-liners on both sides.

Mustafa Hamarneh, head of the Strategic Studies Center at the University of Jordan, agreed that Ahmadinejad was out of step, especially with the Palestinians.

"He's an ideologue who shot from the cuff; it was not a studied statement," Hamarneh said.

Iran's threatening stance also was counterproductive to its own interests, said Wahby. It reinforces the notion that its nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons despite claims that it is meant exclusively for peaceful power generation.

"Such statement by Tehran will encourage Israel to cling to its nuclear arsenal," Wahby said...