As the Obama Administration prepares to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the renewed peace talks come amid reports that Syria has been shipping Scud missiles to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Israel and the US say they have clear proof that the Syrian missiles were sent to Hizbullah.
Both Iran and Syria have made it known that they are strongly opposed to the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Their continued support for Hizbullah and Hamas is seen as an attempt to thwart Obama's efforts to re-launch the negotiations.
It would have been wiser had the Obama Administration dealt first with the threats coming from Tehran and Damascus instead of exerting pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Iranians and Syrian meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and Lebanese is not something new. Dealing with these threats will help the peace process and bring Washington closer to achieving its goals.
The "peace process" cannot move forward while Iran and Syria have stepped up their efforts to undermine moderate Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not the only parties that need to worry about the long arms of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar Assad.
With help from Tehran and Damascus, Hizbullah has created a "state-within-a-state" in Lebanon and dragged the country into a number of wars with Israel over the past two decades. Now it seems that the Lebanese shiite group is leading Lebanon toward another confrontation with Israel by bringing the Russian-made missiles into the country.
The Iranians, on the other hand, are continuing to provide Hamas, directly and indirectly, with weapons and money. Hamas leaders last week confirmed that they were receiving help from Iran, but insisted that the aid was "unconditional."
Were it not for the support of Iran and Syria, Hamas would not have been able to seize full control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007 and stay in power until today.
All indications are that Hamas, like Hizbullah, is also preparing for another round of violence with Israel, especially in wake of reports that the Islamist movement has also been "importing" various types of missiles through underground tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
The Egyptians, Lebanese and Jordanian regimes also have good reason to fear Tehran and Damascus.
Just last week an Egyptian court sentenced 26 Hizbullah men for planning terror attacks against destinations popular with Israelis. Had the scheme succeeded, it would have seriously embarrassed the Egyptian government and caused grave damage to the tourist economy in that country.
The Jordanians say they have evidence that Hamas and Hizbullah have long been trying to use the kingdom as a launching pad for missile attacks on Israel.
Bringing Israeli and Palestinian representatives back to the negotiating table may be a positive step on the part of the Obama Administration, but it would be a huge mistake to continue ignoring or underestimating the threats emerging from Iran and Syria.