Should Israel negotiate with Obama

T. Belman. Former Masssad Chief, Efraim Halevy, says Obama was right, Iran capitulated
Op-ed: Netanyahu should accept the American offer of dialogue on the draft agreement reached in Lausanne, instead of signalling his intent to scupper it out of hand. This is worth reading.

Op-ed: Netanyahu needs to stop the hysterical rhetoric and start thinking about the benefits Israel can get – like full coordination, a diplomatic umbrella, fighter jets and missile defense funding.

By Ron Ben-Yishai, YNET

President Obama is now willing to promise Israel the moon and the stars, provided that Congress, under the influence of Benjamin Netanyahu, does not spoil his “deal” with Iran. The framework agreement is not yet final, but is supposed to be the crowning glory – and in fact almost the only legacy – of Obama’s foreign policy, and he will do anything to remove the obstacles in his path.

Therefore, it is time for Israel to undergo intensive dialogue with the United States, to use the nuclear deal with Iran as leverage to bump its own national security several rungs up the ladder, and in particular to neutralize the dangerous aspects of the agreement between the world powers and Iran. And there are quite a few.

But to achieve this, Netanyahu has to engage in aggressive diplomacy behind the scenes, with the purpose of resuming dialogue with the United States and in an effort to coordinate positions and actions in three main areas:

1. Improvements and adjustments to the final agreement with Iran, which is set to be signed at the end of June. More importantly, understandings on what will happen once the agreement is signed, and is – or isn’t – implemented.

2. Intelligence cooperation and security between Israel and the United States, including all the requests that Israel has made and so far has not been granted, or granted sparingly.

3. A commitment from the US to provide Israel with a political umbrella at the UN and in the international arena in general, given the political attack by Mahmoud Abbas that is already in full swing.

Regarding the agreement being drafted with Iran, Israel can demand – and receive – the most important benefit: Coordination on the actions that the US and Israel will take should Iran violate the terms of the agreement. It is important to remember that Iran will remain in possession of an extensive infrastructure for the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons within at least a year.

Iran can actually decide at any time to use this infrastructure. Therefore Israel and the US must be ready to act should Iran be seen to be violating the agreement, and be able to stop it whether through draconian sanctions or military attack, or both. In addition, Israel must receive a commitment from the United States that it will do everything in its power to prevent the military nuclearization of other Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.

Understandings and summaries between the Israeli and American governments on this issue are also a means of deterrent and an effective way of filling in the many gaps in the emerging agreement.

Even if these understandings are secret, they have great value. If, for example, the United States agrees in advance with Israel on joint intelligence estimates and joint diagnosis of violations of the agreement by Iran, and if the United States promises Israel that it will not oppose military action on its part if Iran makes a break for the bomb – the State of Israel will have some security and a safety net in light of the nuclear deal being formulated with Iran.

This will primarily avoid fights and disputes between Israel and the United States, on whether there Iran was in violation or not. In addition, the understanding between Israel and the United States could lead to improvements in the agreement that will be signed in three months time.

But there is one thing Israel cannot accept, and that is Obama’s offer to defend it if attacked. This is a risky proposition that could let the Americans force Israel into a move or political line that puts it at risk.

For example, if the US requires Israel to withdraw from the water line in the Jordan Valley. The Americans could then argue that it is possible because Israel has such a defense treaty with the US. This is dangerous, whether it is a regular defense treaty, or an informal alliance. In general, Israel should adhere to the stance set by David Ben-Gurion that Israel defends itself by itself, and does not become the client state of a foreign patron.

The topic for bilateral dialogue is the security package Israel would receive to protect it from the dangers posed by the nuclear agreement. First and foremost, the preservation of the coordination and intelligence cooperation currently carried out between the IDF and the Pentagon, but also enhancing and improving cooperation in cyberspace – both on intelligence gathering and cyber attacks.

Another important component of the security package is American aid in accelerating the development of active defense operations. This includes funds for the David’s Sling missile defense system – which would to a large extent counter the threat of Hezbollah’s rockets and Iran’s cruise missiles – and extra batteries for the Iron Dome.

But most importantly of all, the procurement of thousands of interceptors for all of Israel’s air defense systems, so that it can withstand barrages of dozens or even hundreds of missiles, launched simultaneously by Hezbollah and Hamas into Israel. Interceptors are extremely expensive, costing billions of dollars. Israel would go bankrupt if it had to meet the cost alone, and US assistance on this matter is essential to the country’s survival.

One must accept the fact that with the emerging agreement or without it, Iran is now a nuclear threshold power. It has the ability to develop and produce nuclear weapons at any time, if it decides to violate the agreement. Therefore, Israel will be in need of offensive capabilities for a preemptive strike on Iran, or for a second strike, if Iran attacks first. For this, Israel needs precision-guided munitions of all kinds, and perhaps another squadron of F-35 stealth fighter jets.

In the political sphere, Israel needs to secure a commitment from the US to veto any Security Council proposal, be it Palestinian or French, that seeks to bypass the need for the Palestinians to reach an agreement with Israel through direct negotiations – an agreement that would require compromises on the part of the Palestinians, too, and thwart the Palestinians’ intentions to get the international community to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Behind-the-scenes pressure from the United States will also be beneficial vis-à-vis other international entities, such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Netanyahu can now get every item on this list from the American government. More precisely, he can get them for as long as the negotiations continue between the world powers and Iran on the final version of the agreement. This is an unprecedented opportunity, a high point, a three-month window to upgrade Israel’s political and security coordination with the United States.

But to do so, Netanyahu should immediately halt the hysterical rhetoric, and begin secret and intense negotiations with Israel’s most important ally. He should do so now, for the window of opportunity will only be open for as long as the US administration needs Israel’s stamp of approval.

April 29, 2015 | 12 Comments »

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12 Comments / 12 Comments

  1. Halevi presents the unlikely scenario of Obama agreeing to anything which would endanger his second Nobel Peace Prize for giving Iran Nuclear capability.
    Perhaps this scenario is not less imaginative or detached from reality:
    Israel Can and Should negotiate a written agreement with Egypt, Jordan and Saudia: Israel will take Iran out, in return for Egypt absorbing the Arabs who will be resettled from the Gaza strip, Jordan will take the Arabs from Judea and Samaria. Saudia – together with the clients of her oil – will foot the costs involved.

  2. @ Dandaman:I like to present contrary thinking for our consideration but not as a recommendation. We must entertain opposing arguments and be open to change. Otherwise we will be just like the Left.

  3. Bondmanp is correct to point out that Saudi Arabia etc. will not be sitting still as Iran builds up its conventional military. However, two questions remain, will the Saudis etc. efforts be enough to prevent a purely destructive Iranian attack on oil related facilities, and will the world be willing to risk that the Saudis etc. can defend their intrinsically vulnerable oil infrastructure.

    Iran probably will not gratuitiously initiate a conventional attack on the Sunni Arab states, at least until Iran has a substantial nuclear edge on them. What would provoke an Iranian attack is the threat of an economic blockade. As by the time Iran goes for nuclear breakout, the world will be very tied into Iran economically, so the odds of re-establishing an economic boycott are very low, and with the risk that a fifth of the world’s oil delivery mechanism could go up in smoke, the miniscule chance of new sanctions diminishes to zero.

    What is most troubling about President Obama’s surrender to Iran is that it is provoking a vast increase in military resouces, including nuclear military resources, in the Middle East. Decades of stability and functional peace are being threatened.

  4. @ Michael Comments:
    You make good points, Michael, but don’t assume that the U.S.’s historical allies will sit still as Obama turns his back on them. They will rapidly look to replace whatever they relied on from the U.S., either from other friendly nations, or internally. And so, we witnessed the use of a non-U.S.-made bunker-buster bomb on an Iranian missile installation in Yemen this week. The attack also employed sophisticated aircraft counter-measure technology, and a delivery plane that was not sourced as a military aircraft from the U.S. Israeli? Saudi Arabian? A joint effort? No matter who actually developed the hardware and conducted the raid, it is evidence that Iran’s enemies are forging ahead with effective defense (and offense) technologies without any American involvement. This is the reality that Obama’s efforts have produced, and most likely the results that he sought, as he withdrew American power and influence from the world.

  5. 1. Promises are meaningless in general and as his track record clearly shows, from President Obama beyond meaningless. Iran will get nuclear bombs and Israel next to nothing.

    2. The even greater danger is that with sanctions lifted, Iran will be able to build up her conventional forces (see already the S-300 missile defense system) to the point where there will no longer be a viable military option, and with Iran’s resulting ability to attack the oil infrastructure and shipping routes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, there will be no chance of economic sanctions being reimposed either. When this point is reached, Iran will be able to hang the international inspectors from lampposts and livestream her nuclear bomb building activities and the West can and will do nothing, save perhaps lecture Israel on how she has to live with a nuclear Iran.

  6. This is just a tactic to get BB to submit to Obama. Next… will be on the 2 state solution. I wish Israels leadership took a more offensive approach – regardless of how it is received. Just do it instead of leading us into the lions den . BB cannot protect Israels best interests if he ends up caving into this power hungry American prez.

  7. I concur with all the comments here. Look, Obama wants any deal with Iran he can get, and so he is happy to get a deal that actually provides cover for Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Nothing Bibi can do or say will change Obama’s mind, or even effect any changes to a deal that Iran likes. All Iran has to say is “no” to any alterations proposed by Israel, and Bibi’s efforts will be for naught. And that is why Bibi’s suggestions won’t even be presented to Iran in the first place. He is simply not open to anything the Jew Bibi has to say. Proof of this was Obama’s intentional ignoring of Bibi’s alternative plan for dealing with Iran without the use of force. Halevy is a naive fool, as is anyone who thinks that the U.S., especially under Obama, will lift a finger to save Israel’s behind. Outside of corporate welfare projects for the U.S. defense industry, Israel will not benefit from military assistance from the U.S. As it was before 1967, Israel is mostly on its own. Israel must diversify its military procurement portfolio (as it has begun to), and invest in rebuilding the parts of its own defense industry that have been curtailed or shuttered (e.g., Israel Aircraft Industries). Halevy’s approach is stunningly similar to the approach used by leaders of Czechoslovakia prior to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland. Sometimes, the best approach is to completely avoid the appearance of a willingness to participate in the weakening of your own nation.

    And living under the threat of massive missile barrages, no matter how large the defensive systems Israel can deploy, is simply an unacceptable status quo. As long as the threats exist, Israel’s ability to respond to provocations is hampered, and that is unacceptable as well. The threats must be completely neutralized, without regard to any collateral damage. I would rather the world condemn Israeli aggression than shed tears over thousands, perhaps millions, of dead Jews. We’ve seen this film before, and I don’t think we should have to see it again.

  8. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2: This OBAMA nazi whore is trying to smear the legitimate concerns of the vast majority of Israelis. He was ‘projecting’ when he tried to pin the ‘hysterical’ label on Israel’s well thought out and reasoned position on Iran. The fact that OBAMA would send these lying signals of let’s make a deal are a good sign of OBAMA weakness, as he is inclined to give ISRAEL a bloody nose. It shows Netanyahu has been throwing strikes. There is no doing deals with this administration. Let them have it, in every way possible.
    Kudos on the operations in Syria and beyond.

  9. No.

    Obama’s hostility to Israel is a product of his world view and his decision to cast American interests with emerging regional power Iran.

    There is nothing Israel can to do affect his policy. Israel has no real leverage and would be left at the most – with crumbs on the table. Israel should aim to preserve its freedom of action instead.

  10. I forgot.
    YNET is one of the top pro Obama centers here. It is controlled by the Mozes group who also controls “Yediot Acharonot”. They were part pf the Livni-Obama-Hertzog entente during elections.
    It would appear to me that before reproducing publications by such elements one has to research origin and motives.

  11. The person in question is a failed “bitchonist” who has been undermining government policy decisions for years.
    He is part of the all around “negotiating”, (actually surrendering), and rubber bullet cadre, in reality a plant under pretense of expertise on national security. Spare me the purported credits dressing up those plants.
    Netanyahu is for a change holding the correct line.
    If don Hussein Barak Obama likes his personal agreement with rabid Islamic Iran, he can keep it.
    Israel must only adhere to what we consider here, the majority by far, is best for Israel.
    The person in question should get a new line to sell from the Obama administration.