In the shadows of death, Iran lurks and plots the demise of Israel, former President George W. Bush said Wednesday.
He said extremist movements would likely continue attempting to spread that influence — a sobering prediction of what’s to come in the Middle East.
“I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace, that they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence.”
Bush said nuclear weapons are only one facet of Iran’s poisonous influence in the Middle East.
“Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East,” he said. “And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look.”
The former president, who launched the Iraq War, said the Biden administration dreams of a long-term two-state solution to the Palestinian question, something that may not be feasible in a climate where Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at Israel.
“I think it’s very difficult at this stage,” Bush said. “I wish, obviously, all of us should hope there’s not violence, but what I think you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel, and trying to break up alliances that were formed in the previous administration called the Abraham Accords.”
Bush said the Abraham Accords, which ended the long-standing diplomatic freeze between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and later Bahrain, are critical to the region’s future.
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If the accords endure, “it will make it easier to establish peace,” Bush said.
“But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons,” he said.
“You’ve got to understand that Israel is going to defend itself. So long as there is a threat to their people, they will defend itself.”
That means any two-state concept is “going to take a while,” Bush said.
“It is going to require the Arab world deciding that peace with Israel is important for solving the Palestinian issue.”
Bush said no matter how long the odds, the U.S. needs to move toward peace as a goal.
“There is a lot of pressure, obviously, on the White House,” Bush said. “I don’t know all the circumstances, but I think the U.S. does have a role in trying to deal with violence.”
“[S]ometimes, conditions are good for a settlement, and sometimes they’re not,” he said, adding the U.S. needs to “see its way through until peace talks can begin, if they do at all.”
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