The chance that Israel will launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran's rogue nuclear-weapons facilities is now 50-50 and appears to be rising steadily, says Middle East expert and award-winning journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave.
"I think it is, as of now, a 50-50 proposition," de Borchgrave tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview. "It seems to be moving up the ladder."
De Borchgrave has warned that international sanctions won't be enough to encourage Iran's theocrats to relinquish their nuclear ambitions. But he tells Newsmax that the leaders of several Persian Gulf nations have said privately they would welcome a U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear-enrichment sites.
"Everybody is very concerned about a nuclear Iran," he says. "If you talk to some of the leaders up and down the Persian Gulf off the record — they'll never say that on the record — some of them are hoping the Iranian nuclear facilities will be taken out by U.S. bombers.
"And that to my way of thinking is inconceivable under the Obama administration. But what is quite conceivable is that the Israelis would go ahead and do it on their own.
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If Israel does launch an attack, de Borchgrave said, the Obama administration would almost certainly oppose it. But it would have to be very cautious about condemning Israel for the action, because of growing sentiment in Congress supporting Israel's right to defend itself.
De Borchgrave, who spent 25 years as chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek magazine, is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an editor-at-large at United Press International and The Washington Times, and a Newsmax contributor.
Any effort to bring peace between Israel and Palestinians would face a "very tough road ahead," the foreign affairs expert tells Newsmax.
"There is one of course very simple solution — one suggested by the king of Saudi Arabia back in 2002, when he got all of the Arab friends, 21 nations, to agree to sign an immediate peace treaty with Israel and have normal diplomatic relations and economic relations, provided that Israel go back to the 1967 borders, that meaning the borders before the 1967 war. And that of course to Israel is unacceptable."
Asked for his reaction to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's suggestion that Israel may be willing to divide Jerusalem, allowing the eastern part of the city to be under Palestinian control, de Borchgrave said: "Well, every little advance is significant in the overall context of hopefully a peace treaty between the two sides . . . And the fact that one important Israeli cabinet minister says that parts of East Jerusalem could be given up is obviously very significant."
But de Borchgrave said Palestinians will insist on massive relocation of Jewish settlers out of the West Bank.
"There are today about 300,000 Jewish settlers in 140 settlements in the West Bank, which should be of course a Palestinian state. And it's really hard to image that 300,000 Jews would agree to live under Palestinian sovereignty," he says. "So most of those would have to come out, except for the major settlements that are now on the Israeli side of the wall that's been built, the separation of the Palestinians and Israelis, which takes up about 12 percent of the Palestinian territories."
Other highlights from the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview:
- Any Palestinian state would need to be self sustaining and viable. Water rights currently controlled by the Israelis would have to be negotiated, as would the depth of the security zone between the two nations. NATO or U.S. troops would likely be employed to keep the peace near the Jordan River.
- The mission in Iraq is not over, and it not clear the United States has won. Iran actually has more influence in Iraq today than when the war began.
- The furor against the ground zero mosque, which is actually two blocks from ground zero and is mostly a community center, is a mistake. He says the facility should go forward, as New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has recommended.
- China is "feeling its way" as an emerging superpower, and isn't looking to the United States for guidance or advice on how to proceed.
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