While last month Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed hope that President-elect Barack Obama would be able to unite the world and force Iran to the bargaining table, he has now told Japan’s Kyodo News that he hopes Obama delays those talks.
Instead, Peres would prefer that Obama wait until at least after Iran’s June elections, fearing that “it may affect the results.” He also insisted that “Israel doesn’t intend to go to war, plain and simple.” Presumably that s only with respect to Iran, as the nation seems just days away from launching an invasion of the Gaza Strip.
So what happened in the last month that shifted Peres’ position from hope that Obama would talk to Iran to fear that he might talk to Iran? Mostly the price of oil. As oil has plummeted Iran’s already shaky economy has gotten much worse, and that lack of confidence is hurting Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s reelection chances.
While Israel has spent the past several years trying to convince the world that Iran is an immediate threat that needs immediate action, the prospect of ousting the outspoken Ahmadinejad from office appears to have Peres urging Obama to sit on his hands for the first six months of his administration. If Ahmadinejad manages to win the election anyhow, how easy will it be to return to the notion that Iran’s civilian nuclear program (likely to be in or nearly in operation by then) is a threat that can’t afford to wait?