By Gideon Rachman
Published: August 6 2007 19:18
Before the Iraq war, optimistic neo-conservatives came up with a new slogan about the Israel-Palestine conflict: “The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad.” American victory in Iraq would create the political conditions for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Now that the US is well on the way to failure in Iraq a new theory is doing the rounds. This time, “the road to Jerusalem runs through Tehran.” It is the rising power of Iran – fostered by the war in Iraq – that may create the conditions for peace between Israel and Palestine.
While the Baghdad road theory was based on an optimistic vision of the democratic transformation of the Middle East, the Tehran road theory is based on fear. It argues – essentially – that the rise of Iran is scary enough to give all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute a new interest in finding a settlement. This has become especially urgent since the militant Islamists of Hamas – who are supported by Iran – have seized power in the Gaza Strip and split the putative Palestinian state in half.