The NY Times reprinted an amazing excerpt from Dennis Ross and David Makovsky’s book debunking the idea that settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to resolving other regional conflicts too:
Since the origins of so many regional tensions and rivalries are not connected to the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is hard to see how resolving it would unlock other regional stalemates or sources of instability. Iran, for example, is not pursuing its nuclear ambitions because there is an Arab-Israeli conflict. Sectarian groups in Iraq would not suddenly put aside their internal struggles if the Palestinian issue were resolved. Like so many conflicts in the region, these struggles have their own dynamic.
In addition, as tragic as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has become, it has not spilled over to destabilize the Middle East. There have been two Palestinian Intifadas, or uprisings, including one that lasted from 2000 to 2005 and claimed the lives of 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis – but not a single Arab leader had been toppled or a single regime destabilized as a result. It has remained a local conflict, contained in a small geographical area. Yet the argument of linkage endures to this day, and with powerful promoters. Why does it persist? And why has it been accepted among top policymakers as if it is factually correct?
Yoram Ettinger recently pointed out that there’s no end to how far the spurious linkage can be stretched:
The US Administration-devised linkage reinvents the Middle East, transforming a 100 year old (Arab-Israel) conflict into the alleged root cause of the 1,400 year old Middle East turbulence. Is there a logical linkage between a potential Iranian takeover of Bahrain and “apostate Saudi Arabia” on one hand, and the future of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria on the other hand?! Why not a linkage between an end to Iran’s subversion of Iraq and an end to IDF counter-terrorism operations in Judea and Samaria?!
Or how about a stretched-linkage between the prevention of al-Qaeda takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities and a total Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria?! And, what about the grand-linkage between an end to Sunni-Shiite rift, Sudan’s civil war, Lebanon’s internal rifts on one hand, and the repartitioning of Jerusalem on the other hand?!
Related reading: Mideast Dominoes: A Falling Theory