- Last Updated: 12:35 AM, August 15, 2012
- Posted: 10:18 PM, August 14, 2012
Don’t go to Iran, Israel’s prime minister pleaded with the United Nations secretary-general Friday.
Benjamin Netanyahu made his case to Ban Ki-moon in a private phone conversation. But several hours later he posted a very public message on his Web site, making the phoner public. Worse yet: On Sunday, in front of TV cameras at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting, Bibi repeated his plea for all to hear.
Diplomats I’ve talked to were outraged. By publicly taking the UN chief to task, they say, Netanyahu humiliated Ban. And (tsk tsk) he also broke an unwritten diplo-code having to do with the private nature of such talks.
Bibi’s aides note that the prime minister merely publicized his own side of the conversation, not Ban’s.
America’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, was more discreet: She privately called Ban last Thursday, adding America’s clout to the campaign to stop the world’s so-called top diplomat from helping the mullahs break their pariah status.
Members of Ban’s own inner circle — including the top UN political official, former State Department bigwig Jeffrey Feltman — have also cautioned him not to go.
What’s the big deal? Simply this: Every concerned citizen of the world, from President Obama on down, is begging the Israelis to let global “isolation” of Iran take its toll before they resort to a military strike against its nuclear-weapons facilities.
So here’s the big question that underlines Netanyahu’s public plea to Ban: If the West’s top diplomats can’t use their tact and talent to convince even the most pro-Western UN chief in memory to keep Iran off his itinerary, how will they ever manage to isolate Iran so completely that the mullahs will quit their most prized pet project?
But the secretary-general still wants to attend this month’s meeting of a strong UN voting bloc, the Non-Allied Movement. Founded during the Cold War, this group remains more “non-aligned” with America than with its adversaries. This year, its 120 members elected Iran to the rotating chairmanship.
Such gatherings allow the mullahs to grace the world with their philosophy. E.g., at a UN anti-drugs conference in June, Iranian Vice Prime Minister Mohammad Reza Rahimi explained, “The spread of narcotics in the world emanates from the teachings of the Talmud . . . whose objective is the destruction of the world.”
More important, they let the Ayatollahs subtly show to their own oppressed citizens that, far from being isolated, they’re a major global player. Thus the “scoop” on Ban’s coming visit first ran in one of the regime’s favorite newspapers, Fars.
Meanwhile, Bibi and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, are trying to unite Israel behind the need to use “all options” to end Iran’s nuclear dash.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon this week called on “the international community” to declare diplomatic negotiations with Iran a failure. Then, he says, Iran must be warned to stop its illicit uranium enrichment “within weeks,” or else.
And after that, well — the “or else.”
For decades, Israel has acted to prevent hostile neighbors from getting atomic weapons. Attacks on nuclear facilities in Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007) were universally condemned, but proved more successful at actually ending nuclear threats than diplomatic treaties, inspection regimes or coordinated sanctions. Now Israel is consumed by a very public debate about whether to similarly treat Iran’s facilities.
That Ban would even consider gracing Tehran with his presence while the regime continues to scoff at its obligations under signed international treaties tells us how likely “diplomatic isolation” is to derail the mullahs’ atomic ambitions.
Which means Iran will very soon become a nuclear-fueled neighborhood bully.
Unless, of course, Israel — hopefully with America’s help this time — once again employs its unique anti-proliferation program.
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