Nation with most at stake
is absent, can’t be ignored
New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been on a charm offensive. Click image to enlarge.
THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT on Tuesday presented in Geneva an historic set of proposals to end the decade-long standoff over its nuclear weapons ambitions.
But, with the country’s economy on the verge of collapse, one vital player in any deal was absent: Israel.
Although U.S. officials were taking the proposal seriously, Israelis are sounding the alarm, calling it “a charm offensive” and warning Iran cannot be trusted.
The Israelis have to be heard because they have the means – and the will – to do something about it if they perceive the talks are a waste of time.
The question is, how much time will they wait?
WE DISCUSSED THIS issue after a 10-day fact-finding visit to the region in September, when the new president of Iran Hassan Rouhani spoke at the U.N. General Assembly, in Israel attack on Iran possible if nuke talks fail.
Its patience will not last forever, we wrote then.
The Jerusalem Post story on Monday about the Israeli prime minister’s speech on Iran. Click image to enlarge.
More recently, the temperature of Israeli rhetoric has ratcheted up.
On Monday, the Jerusalem Post carried the following story: Netanyahu: Easing off sanctions against Iran now would be a ‘historic mistake’
The sub-headline explained something not very widely known: “Prime minister says Iranian economy on verge of collapse.”
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu kept his focus on stopping the Iranian nuclear threat Monday, at the opening of a session in which the Knesset is expected to deal with dramatic internal issues,” Lahav Harkov reported.
“Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” the prime minister declared, speaking at a ceremonial opening meeting of the Knesset’s winter session.
“According to Netanyahu, weakening sanctions will not support moderate trends in Iran; rather, it will strengthen Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will portray the change as a victory,” the Post said.
A report in The New York Times online on Tuesday about the events in Geneva was, at first, optimistic.
In Iran Presents New Nuclear Proposal to Big Powers Michael R. Gordon and Thomas Erdbrink wrote:
“Iran’s foreign minister outlined a new proposal to six big powers on Tuesday to constrain his country’s nuclear program in return for a right to enrich uranium and an easing of the sanctions that have been battering the Iranian economy.
“In a potential sign that the negotiations have turned serious after years of no progress, a senior State Department official suggested that the closed-door discussions had been workmanlike.”
Much later in the story we are told:
“In Israel, the talks have prompted concern that the West might relax its demands in a compromise with Iran. … Israel’s security cabinet on Tuesday argued against allowing Iran to enrich uranium, saying that was against a partial agreement.”
The New York Times report on Saturday about Benjamin Netanyahu’s lonely crusade against Iran. Click image to enlarge.
THIS CAME JUST a few days after a major news-feature in The New York Times about the Israeli leader’s position.
On Oct. 11, in Netanyahu Takes a Lonely Stance Denouncing Iran Jodi Rudoren reported from Jerusalem:
“[W]hen [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has recently tried to focus the world on the Iranian nuclear program, using ancient texts, Holocaust history and a 2011 book by Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, he has sometimes come off sounding shrill.
“Increasingly alone abroad and at home, where he has lost several trusted aides and cabinet colleagues, Mr. Netanyahu has stubbornly argued that if people would just study the facts, they would surely side with him.”
The Prime Minister has been speaking loudly on the topic for months.
“With a series of major speeches — three more are scheduled next week — and an energetic media blitz, Mr. Netanyahu, 63, has embarked on the public-diplomacy campaign of his career, trying to prevent what he worries will be “a bad deal” with Iran.”
Then Rudoren adds some analysis:
“Insisting on a complete halt to uranium enrichment and no easing of the economic sanctions he helped galvanize the world to impose on Iran, Mr. Netanyahu appears out of step with a growing Western consensus toward reaching a diplomatic deal that would require compromise,” she writes.
But as the West engages with the rogue regime in Iran, it cannot ignore the interests of the nation with the most at stake.
Tel Aviv is well within range of an Iranian attack; Paris, London and Washington are not.
Israeli intelligence services are world-renowned for their efforts. If Netanyahu is not convinced Iran is serious this time around, and he is convinced that his own intelligence services are correct, he may just pull the trigger.
The consequences would be global, catastrophic and unpredictable.
It cannot be allowed to happen.
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