Levin: The Middle East Crisis is All About Iran

Michael Hirsh
National Journal

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said on Sunday that the biggest challenge in resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is to move Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the key broker in an ongoing ceasefire, into alignment with the West against Iran.

The Obama administration has to “keep pulling the world together against Iran. That’s the source of the problem,” said Levin, D-Mich.

Morsi, an Islamist who recently seized more power in a move that has raised concerns about his ultimate aims, must take more responsibility for “making the ceasefire work” by blocking the transit of rockets, missiles and arms through tunnels at the border crossing  between Egypt and Israel, Levin said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., echoed the sentiment. “Let's trace some of this back to Iran,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “Where did the missiles come from that were being fired? Iran.”

President Obama, meanwhile, “has got to point out that behind all of this is Iran,” in particular Tehran’s support of Hamas and Hezbollah, Levin said. What is most important in Israel’s stand against Hamas’ rockets, Levin added, is whether the demonstration effect of its “Iron Dome” missile defense system will be enough to deter Iran as well.

On another issue, the looming “fiscal cliff,” Levin urged the Republicans to continuing their move away from ideological rigidity in adhering to the no-tax pledge solicited by Grover Norquist. That movement appeared to be continuing in the aftermath of a decisive electoral defeat for Republicans on Nov. 6. Another guest on the program, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he “entirely” backed a previous statement by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who said Wednesday he cares “more about [my country] than I do about Grover Norquist.”

“No one gets all they want,” King said, adding that the two-decade-old Norquist pledge was antiquated, comparable to declaring war on Japan in 1941. “I’m not going to go to war with Japan today,” he said. “The election’s over. President Obama won. He won fair and square. …. Let’s find a way to get resolved as much as possible between now and the end of the year.”

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