Gaza Crisis Proves Need for Better Relations with Iran

In response to mounting international pressure for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and Israel, Secretary of State Rice is reportedly engaged in "furious telephone diplomacy with officials in the region, pressing them on the need for a 'durable and sustainable' cease-fire."

The Bush Administration is saying that they don't want an "immediate ceasefire," they want a ceasefire that has certain features, such as a permanent end to Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. This is also, of course, the Israeli position.

Meanwhile, Hamas also has issues with an "immediate ceasefire." They also want a ceasefire that has certain features, such as an end to the blockade of Gaza.

Israel, Hamas, and the Bush Administration all agree. They all want a ceasefire with certain conditions. They disagree on the conditions.

The choices are: more violence, or an agreement between Israel, Hamas, and the Bush Administration on conditions for a ceasefire. The question of stopping the violence is to a large extent a question of achieving that agreement.

Wouldn't it be extremely useful to have better relations with Iran right now?

"We're looking for all our friends and allies in the region to use whatever good offices they have with Hamas or with other Palestinian organizations to try and help communicate the international community's desire that the violence stop," said a State Department spokesman.

Here we see -- again -- the fruits of the Bush Administration's policies of isolation and denial. The United States does not currently have good working relations with any country that has "good offices" with Hamas. Egypt, for example, which has worked hand in glove with Israel and the United States in maintaining the blockade of Gaza, does not really have "good offices" with Hamas right now.

Imagine how this crisis could be different if the United States had working relations with Iran. Iran could use its "good offices" with Hamas to help quickly bring about a "durable and sustainable" ceasefire, ending the aerial assaults on Gaza, ending the rocket attacks into Israel, and ending the blockade of Gaza.

Indeed, if we had better relations with Iran, perhaps this crisis would not have happened in the first place. Several hundred Palestinians and several Israelis would still be walking the earth.

Can we not now, at long last, bury the failed and destructive policy of isolation?

Raise your voice: the U.S. should take concrete steps to engage Iran.