Jones: PA-Israel Peace Would Thwart Iran

The Obama administration hopes to convince Arab nations and Israel to unite against a common enemy, Iran, rather than continue their own dispute.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 12:27

PA official Saeb Erekat greets Gen. Jim Jones
PA official Saeb Erekat greets Gen. Jim Jones
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Obama administration is hoping to convince Israel and its Arab neighbors that it is better to unite against a common enemy, Iran, than to continue with the decades-old hostilities that have wracked the region – particularly the stalled “peace process” with the Palestinian Authority.

U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Wednesday, “One of the ways that Iran exerts influence in the Middle East is by exploiting the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Advancing this peace would... help prevent Iran from cynically shifting attention away from its failures to meet its obligations."

Jones stressed America's commitment to Israel's security, downplaying the recent weeks of hostility towards the Netanyahu government by the White House. “There is no space – no space – between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel's security,” he insisted, adding that Washington is “determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.” The goal, Jones said, was to avoid a nuclear arms race in the region and “the proliferation of nuclear technology to terrorist organizations,” echoing the mission statement of the recent 47-nation nuclear summit held in Washington.

However, he urged all sides “to avoid provocative actions, including Israeli actions in East Jerusalem, and Palestinians' incitement that fuels suspicion rather than trust.” The comment referred to an announcement several weeks ago that a mid-level step in a three-year-old housing project in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood had been approved. The Interior Ministry's “ill-timed” announcement, which came during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, set off a flurry of condemnations and recriminations from Obama administration officials.

Also during Biden's visit, an official PA ceremony was held to honor the lead terrorist in one of the most bloody attacks in the history of the State of Israel by naming a public square in her honor. Not a word of criticism was heard from the Obama administration – in fact, not one official ever referred to it, although Israel had repeatedly asked the Obama administration to exert its influence in the PA to stop the event.