Prime Minister Netanyahu has been more vocal than any of his predecessors
about the 'looming Iranian danger,í insisting that any agreement to prevent
Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will amount to nothing more than a
technical pause. He has been rallying members of Congress to impose
additional crippling sanctions on Iran, hoping that the mounting economic
pressure will precipitate a regime change, or at a minimum, force the current
regime to abandon its ambition to acquire nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu has convinced himself that President Obamaís 'eagernessí to strike
a deal with Iran would leave Israel vulnerable, even though the President has
forcefully and repeatedly made it clear that under no circumstances will he
strike a deal that can remotely undermine Israelís national security.
Netanyahu, with wide Republican support in Congress, contends that
notwithstanding Iranís change of tone, its apparent willingness to cooperate,
and insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, Iran is a wolf in
sheepís clothing determined to achieve its nuclear goal, however long that
Tehran has already secured two principle demands: enriching uranium on its
soil and limiting any new agreement to a number of years. From Netanyahuís
perspective, this is a recipe for disaster, as Iran would subsequently be
free to pursue its nuclear weapon program.
Netanyahu maintains that even though Khamenei has repeatedly stated that he
is against the building of nuclear weapons, Khamenei distinguishes between
the possession of nuclear weapons and having the technology and materials to
assemble one in short order, which amounts to the same thing.
The problem here is that Netanyahu does not believe that President Obama will
demand an airtight longer-term agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring
Even though the US has kept Israel informed about the substance of the
negotiations with Iran, Netanyahu spared no efforts to rally Congress to
legislate a new set of sanctions that could only derail the negotiations.
Netanyahuís acceptance of the invitation by House Speaker Boehner to address
a joint session of Congress to rebut President Obamaís Iran strategy is
misguided and terribly damaging to US and Israeli strategic interests.
For Netanyahu to ignore protocol and notify the White House only after he
accepted the invitation and refused to rescind it, is a slap in the face of
the President who has done more than any of his predecessors to safeguard
Netanyahu has ignored every appeal from the media, leaders of Jewish
organizations, Israelís European friends, and many others to cancel his trip,
if for no other reason but for Israelís sake.
To be sure, Netanyahu has disgraced Israel and undermined its crucial
relations with the most important ally that stood by it, rain or shine, and
remains its ultimate defender.
Being that the US has and continues to be the ultimate guarantor of Israelís
national security, it defies logic that the US would allow any loopholes in a
new long-term agreement that would in any way endanger Israel at a later
Netanyahu knows too well that should Iran violate the new agreement, and if
it were determined that the use of force is necessary to destroy Iranís
nuclear facilities, only the US can undertake such an extreme measure.
Furthermore, even if Netanyahu loses his mind and decides to attack Iran on
his own, the US will still be dragged in because Israel does not have the
military capability to embark on such an awesome undertaking without US
support, given the likely horrifying regional consequences.
By what logic does Netanyahu have the chutzpah to second-guess the US and act
in a reckless and appalling manner, which can only damage Israelís sacred
ties with the US to score some political points at home, especially at
Netanyahu knows better than most people that without the USí political,
military, and economic support, Israel could not have existed, let alone
become a regional powerhouse in all walks of life.
A responsible Israeli prime minister must work closely with the US to produce
an airtight deal and rally his allies in Congress to work toward that end,
instead of trying to torpedo an agreement that could, at least potentially,
eliminate the Iranian threat.
To begin with, the US must make it clear that it will not hesitate to impose
additional crippling sanctions with the full support of Congress if Iran
continues to drag its feet. The agreement should include the following
Iranís technical ability to construct a nuclear weapon must be curtailed by a
significant reduction in the number of centrifuges, and restrictions must be
placed on the installation of advanced ones.
Iranís plutonium-production capability at Arak must permanently be disabled,
and strict limits must be imposed on the quality and quantity of the
production of enriched uranium.
The US should insist that Iran end its research and development of its
ballistic missile program, which could threaten Israel, and agree on the most
unfettered, intrusive, and unannounced inspections regime.
The Mullahs must be persuaded that the US is prepared to resort to the
military option to stop Iranís drive to become a nuclear state by remaining
militarily vigilant throughout the Gulf. Finally, the agreement should be
effective for at least 10 years.
Netanyahu must understand that the eventual normalization of relations
between the US and Iran is the best way by which to eliminate the Iranian
threat. Therefore, if there is any chance, however small, that such an
agreement will stand the test of time, it must be explored.
The alternative is leaving Iran free to redouble its effort to reach the
nuclear threshold, forcing the US to choose between the lesser of two evils:
to contain Iran (which is costly, dangerous, and prone to instability), or
attack its nuclear facilities, which will further destabilize the region and
undermine rather than enhance Israelís national security.
Notwithstanding the accolades Netanyahu may receive from the floor of
Congress, he has betrayed what is best for Israel. The Israeli electorate
must remember this as they cast their votes come election day.