MIDEAST MIRROR 28.04.15, SECTION A (ISRAEL)
With the exception of Haaretz, Israeli newspapers lead their Tuesday editions with the continued rescue mission in Nepal. Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a feature from its correspondent in Kathmandu, who arrived in the Nepalese capital on one of the first planes – including two jumbo jets – carrying IDF search and rescue experts. The arrival of the Israeli delegation is the lead headline in Israel Hayom ('The IDF comes to help') while The Jerusalem Post focuses on efforts to locate 68 Israelis trapped in areas heavily impacted by the earthquake, which has already killed at least 4,000. In many cases, the Post reports, the Israeli trekkers are in locations where all roads are blocked and they can be reached only by helicopters. Some have sent messages to their families begging for help and warning that they are almost out of food.
Haaretz leads with comments by U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who told a meeting of Reform Jews in Washington that, if the new Israeli government does not demonstrate its commitment to the two-state solution, the U.S. will have a difficult time continuing to assist its efforts to halt international initiatives on the Palestinian issue at the United Nations.
Sherman said that the U.S. has always supported Israel. 'We have always had Israel's back in the international arena, even when it meant standing alone,' Sherman said. 'This will continue to be the case.' Nevertheless, she said, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's actions during the election period 'raised questions about his commitment to the two-state solution.' 'We will be watching very closely to see what happens on this issue after the new government is formed,' Sherman said. 'If the new Israeli government is seen to be stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution that will make our job in the international arena much tougher... it will be harder for us to prevent internationalizing the conflict.
Elsewhere on the Palestinian front, a United Nations inquiry published on Monday blamed the Israeli military for seven attacks on UN schools in Gaza that Hamas claimed were being used as shelters during Operation Protective Edge. The inquiry was headed by Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch general and former force commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
'I deplore the fact that at least 44 Palestinians were killed as a result of Israeli actions and at least 227 injured at United Nations premises used as emergency shelters,' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a letter to the Security Council. Ban added that Hamas and other groups put such locations at risk by hiding rockets in three UN schools. 'The fact that they were used by those involved in the fighting to store their weaponry and, in two cases, probably to fire from is unacceptable,' said Ban.
In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, 'All of the incidents attributed by the report to Israel have already been subject to thorough examination, and criminal investigations have been launched where relevant. Israel makes every effort to avoid harm to sensitive sites.' Nahshon's statement added, 'The executive summary of the report clearly documents the exploitation by terrorist organizations of UN facilities in the Gaza Strip.'
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said, 'We will take the report and present it to the International Criminal Court, especially as they are looking at our request to do a preliminary study.' Malki also praised the UN for releasing the report after a delay, saying he had been worried that Israel was trying to suppress it.
Hamas, for its part, welcomed the report. The group’s spokesman told the AFP news agency that the report was important since it proved Israeli 'war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the (UNRWA) shelters.' 'We call on the world to send the murderous occupation leaders to international courts, and we call on the Palestinian Authority to investigate this report and to persecute the occupation in international courts,' the spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said.
On the Iranian front, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the world is 'closer than ever' to reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran. Speaking to a global gathering on nuclear disarmament, where he and Iran's foreign minister met on the sidelines, Kerry warned that work on a deal is far from over and that key issues remain unresolved. 'I know as well as anyone that we have a long way to go' on the path to a nuclear-free world. Israel is attending the conference as an observer.
At the same conference, Iran demanded that all countries possessing nuclear weapons scrap plans to modernize or extend the life of their arsenals, while branding Israel a threat to the region due to its nuclear stockpile. Speaking on behalf of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told signatories to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that there should be no limits on the transfer of nuclear technology and know-how to NPT signatories. 'We call upon the nuclear-weapon states to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities,' Zarif said. Reductions in deployments and in operational status cannot be a substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons,' Zarif said.
Finally, the Shin Bet announced Monday that six members of an alleged Palestinian terror cell have been arrested. The suspects are all from the same village and are believed to have thrown pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails at communities in the West Bank at least five times in January and February. Security officials pointed out that small locally-based cells like these are extremely dangerous due to their high motivation and the difficulty of uncovering them.
BORDER COMPLEXITIES: Writing in Israel Hayom, Dr. Yehuda Blanga comments on the complex alliances and interests that are shaping the battle between anti-Assad rebels, Hizbollah, Israel and the Syrian regime on the Golan Heights.
"Ever since the Syrian Civil War erupted four years ago, the border with Israel has become extremely tense and has dragged various protagonists into the fighting. The entrance of ISIS to the fray and the activities of the al-Nusra Front – at first as ISIS protégé and, thereafter, as its rival – have completely changed both Israel's handling of the situation on the border and the need for the Syrian regime and its allies to provide some kind of response to the growing threat of radical Islam. This is where Iran and Hizbollah enter the picture.
In the first year of the fighting in Syria, Iran and Hizbollah were careful not to get involved. Since July 2012, however, when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad suffered one of its most serious setbacks in its fight against the rebel forces – when an attack on the headquarters of Syria's national security council in the al-Rawda area of Damascus killed three of Assad's top advisers – the Tehran regime and Hizbollah started to become openly involved in the campaign. For them, the survival of Assad is paramount, since Syria is an important strategic player in the 'resistance camp' and gives Iran greater influence across the Middle East. Thousands of Hizbollah fighters were dispatched over the border into Syria, along with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, to prop up the Assad regime. In a sense, Hizbollah began to fill the military vacuum that the Syrian regime left behind.
The fall of Quneitra to rebel forced, headed by the al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army, led to significant changes in the behavior of the Assad regime and its allies. First, Syria, Iran and Hizbollah joined forces in a major effort to retake the town. Thus far, they have only been partially successful. Second, they started to use the threat posed by the al-Nusra Front – a branch of al-Qa’ida – to the minority groups living in the area and in southern Syria in particular, to recruit them to fight for the regime. This is how Christians and Druze found themselves being trained by Hizbollah and Iran and fighting alongside Assad's troops against the rebels; they were united by a common fear of the threat of radical Sunni Islam and a shared desire for survival.
The main repercussions of these developments for Israel is that, for the first time in the conflict between the Jewish state and Hizbollah, the Shiite terror group now has a presence on a new front – the Syrian front – in addition to its traditional presence in southern Lebanon. If Hizbollah manages to establish a permanent presence on the Syria Golan Heights, and if it manages to retake the Quneitra crossing from rebel forces, the level of threat against Israel will increase in three main ways: Hizbollah will expand its capability to gather intelligence about the IDF and Israeli communities on the strategically important Golan Heights; it will try to deploy some of its thousands of rockets in this area too, thereby expanding the area of Israel that is exposed to a missile threat; and it will try to recruit fighters from within the minorities who live in Israel – Druze, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs – as an additional force capable of carrying out terror attacks against targets within Israel. The most tangible evidence of this is the fact that two of the four terrorists who were killed by the Israeli air force on Sunday while planting a bomb along the perimeter fence were from the Druze town of Majdal Shams, which has remained loyal to Syria and to the Assad regime.
However, Hizbollah is not the only threat to Israel; the presence of rebel forces on the Golan Heights also exacerbates the potential for violence. In the end, the rebels are a coalition of forces that include terrorist organizations and Israel is very much one of their future targets. On several occasions in the past few months, forces loyal to Abu-Mohammad al-Jawlani, the leader and emir of the al-Nusra Front, have been spotted on the border, where they have fired their weapons in the air as a declaration of intent. The problem is that these rebel forces could, if they feel that their struggle against Hizbollah and Syria is going nowhere, carry out an attack on an IDF patrol on the Golan border, in an attempt to drag Israel into a conflict with the Syrian regime and, by extension, with Hizbollah. The understanding that the IDF alone is capable of halting Hizbollah in its tracks – and the belief among many observers that only the IDF can deliver the death blow to the Assad regime and to hasten his fall – is playing a key role in the considerations of all of the rebel organizations – Islamists and secular alike."
HIT AND MISSILE: Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Ephraim Sneh says that the government must invest in the David's Sling missile defense system, which is the only system capable of protecting Israel from Hizbollah’s long-range missiles.
"Irrespective of whether or not Iran and the six world powers sign a nuclear agreement this summer, the Islamic Republic will continue and even intensify its efforts to impose hegemony over the Middle East. It is important to understand, however, that this is just an interim goal for Tehran, which ultimately seeks global dominance and a role as leader of the Muslim world. And make no mistake about it: the Iranians are blessed by seemingly endless patience.
The possibility of a conflict between Israel and Iran's proxy on our northern border – Hizbollah – refuses to go away and recent events in both Syria and Lebanon prove that such a conflict is fairly likely. We have already learned the hard way that we must prepare ourselves in accordance with the enemy's capabilities, not its intentions. The high-trajectory weapons that it has in its possessions – reportedly more than 100,000 rockets and missiles – give Iran massive offensive capabilities against Israel. It is far from certain that Hizbollah will have the willpower to refrain from using these rockets. The organization's leader, Sheikh Hassam Nasrallah, has boasted recently about the Fateh-110 missile, which can carry a payload of half a ton of explosives to any point in Israel with frightening accuracy. And that is not even the most advanced weapon in Hizbollah’s arsenal.
According to a recent briefing by the outgoing head of the IDF Home Front Command, Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, Hizbollah would fire some 1,500 missiles at Israel every day in the event of renewed conflict. The Israeli home front would sustain massive damage if that were to happen – in terms of human life and physical damage. Key centers of industry, energy, transportation and medicine would not be able to function for a prolonged period of time.
During Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a total of 4,500 missiles and rockets were fired at Israel. The performance of the Iron Dome missile defense system kept the damage to a minimum. However, the same number of rockets fired during the 50-day campaign last summer would be launched in a three-day period in any future war with Hizbollah. Massive destruction on the home front will cancel out any successes that the army records on the front. The Iron Dome is incapable of intercepting missiles with a greater payload that are more accurate and have a greater range. That is why Israel has been developing the David's Sling defense system, which was successfully tested most recently late last month.
If it were not for the foot-dragging of the Israeli government – especially because of budgetary issues – David's Sling could now be operative. The government must make an active decision to fast-track the procurement of this system, which can protect the country and its citizens from Hizbollah’s missiles with the same effectiveness that the Iron Dome protected us from Hamas rockets. This is no simple task, since the number of rockets aimed at us from Lebanon is many times greater than the number of interceptor missiles that the IDF possesses.
David's Sling interceptor missiles are much more expensive that those of the Iron Dome. There is a severe funding problem, for which the government must find unconventional solutions – without harming the IDF's preparations for conflicts in other areas. The first and most simple option is to allocate for this project the superfluous tax revenues that have recently been reported on in the Israeli media. When one takes into account the massive expense of rebuilding the country after a hugely damaging war, one understands that David's Sling will quickly cover its own costs.
If the government does not want to invest in a missile defense system that will be effective for years to come, there appears to be little choice but to ask the United States to include the full cost of manufacturing the new system in the defense aid that Washington gives Israel every year. Today, the United States funds around two-thirds of the cost of developing David's Sling. American defense contractor Raytheon has partnered with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in developing the system; the 'smart' elements of the system – the homing devices, the radars and the control and command systems – are based entirely on Israeli knowhow.
Time is of the essence here and the government must give top priority to an effective missile defense system that can protect the country, the home front, IDF installations and vital industrial and economic sites. If these are not adequately protected, the IDF's offensive capabilities are severely curtailed."
COLLISION COURSE: Writing on the NRG website, Amir Rapaport says that Israel and Hizbollah are on a clear collision course and that any mistake or miscalculation could spark a war.
"Israel's northern border – and especially the border with Syria on the Golan Heights – is already proving to be 2015's hotspot. The events of the past few days have merely highlighted this even further. Even before this most recent flare-up, the embers on the northern border have been glowing for many months, fanned by the stated policies of Israel and Hizbollah. Israel has consistently and aggressively warned that it will do whatever it takes – including airstrikes on targets inside Syria – to prevent the transport of 'strategically significant' weapons from Syria to Hizbollah. Hizbollah, for its part, is equally adamant that each and every Israeli operation is met with some kind of military response. These respective policies put Israel and Hizbollah on a collision course.
The previous collision between Israel, Syria and Lebanon – with deep Iranian involvement, of course – came in early 2015, when Israel attacked a convoy of senior Hizbollah and Iranian officers, who were planning on turning that part of the Golan border area into a battleground. Among those killed in the strike was Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of the Hizbollah commander who Israel allegedly assassinated in 2008. Following that attack, Hizbollah curtailed its infrastructure operations in the area, but it did target an IDF patrol on Mount Dov, killing two soldiers.
That mini-cycle of violence ended by mutual killings, but things flared up again last week, when Israel allegedly attacked a missile storage facility in Syria's Qalamoun region on Wednesday, then again on Saturday. Israel did not take direct responsibility for these attacks, but, judging by comments made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Sunday evening, it certainly appears that Israel is making good on its stated policy. However, just as Ya'alon was speaking, a four-member cell crossed the border into the Israeli side of the Golan Heights and prepared to plant a bomb. They were spotted by the IDF and an aerial vehicle was sent to attack. Three of the four were apparently killed.
It may very well be that Hizbollah was trying to extract its revenge for the alleged Israeli attacks of the previous days. But the tension didn't end there: on Monday morning, al-Jazeera claimed that Israel had struck for a third time in the Qalamoun region and that, unlike the previous attacks, there were Syrian fatalities this time. As usual, Israel did not respond, but there were intimations this time that the IDF wasn't behind the attack. This may just be Jerusalem's attempt to lower the flames somewhat, but it is also possible that rebel forces carried out this particular operation.
What is certain is that Israel's north is back up to its highest level of alert, that Hizbollah will continue its efforts to carry out revenge attacks and that any mistake, any miscalculation or misstep by either side could lead to a quick and violent escalation – even if neither side wants to spend this summer fighting the Third Lebanon War."
NO CHANGE: Writing in Maariv, Shlomo Shamir says that, despite threatening noises coming from certain quarters in the United States; Washington is unlikely to change its policy of backing Israel at the most important international forums – such as the UN Security Council.
"There was nothing new or surprising in the most recent comments yesterday by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. She was not expressing a shocking new policy when she told a conference of the Reform Movement that, if the new Israeli government continues to distance itself from the principle of the two-state solution, the United States would find it hard to defend Israel in international forums, including the United Nations Security Council. At a recent meeting with Jewish leaders at the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama made similar comments, in response to a direct question from one of the attendees.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's pre-election comment, in which he said that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch, was met with great anger and frustration by White House officials. Netanyahu's comments were interpreted as an official rejection of the principle that has formed the heart of any possible agreement or discussion between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu's subsequent attempts to clarify his position and to alter the perception of them in the United States did not convince anybody; Obama's closest circle of advisers was not reassured by Netanyahu's half-hearted backtracking.
Sherman's comments yesterday at a gathering of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington are an expression of the deep concern and lack of trust that still exist in the White House toward the Israeli prime minister when it comes to the two-state solution.
One important Jewish leader who attended the White House meeting with Obama told the press that he does not expect there to be any change in how the United States votes on Israel-related resolutions at the Security Council. Diplomats based in New York also believe that the Americans will continue to back Israel at the UN. According to well-placed sources, the U.S. is acting behind the scenes to postpone or nix any Security Council debate or resolution connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Americans argue that any such discussion must wait until after the formation of a new Israeli government; so that the international community will know better what guidelines Israel will adopt regarding the future of the negotiations with the Palestinians. Even after the new government is installed, the Americans would prefer to hear from the prime minister himself what his current thinking is about the two-state solution.
There are currently three proposals doing the rounds of the Security Council. There is a Palestinian-Arab resolution that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state; a French version that includes a framework for issues and parameters that will be discussed as part of the negotiations and there's a resolution drafted by New Zealand, distributed for the first time last week, which calls for the resumption of negotiations.
The United States remains loyal to its current policy of not involving the Security Council in diplomatic efforts to find a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The U.S. insists on remaining the sole mediator between Israel and the Palestinians – and despite recent setbacks, this does not look like changing any time soon."
NASRALLAH WILL HAVE THE FINAL WORD: Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel says that whether or not Israel attacked Syria again on Monday, the chance of sliding down a slippery slope into a major conflict grows every day.
"Events on Israel's northern front over the past few days have been occurring at a rather dizzying pace.
Early Saturday morning, Syrian army weapons storehouses near the border with Lebanon were bombed from the air, in an attack which Arab media attributed to Israel. Sunday evening the Israel Air Force killed four terrorists who were trying to plant an explosive device inside Israeli territory, near the Syrian border on the Golan Heights. Then this morning there was another report – whose veracity looks, for now, to be questionable – of another aerial attack by Israel in the Qalamoun mountains, the same area attacked on Saturday.
The conventional wisdom in the Israeli defense establishment has been – for the past few years – that three or four mutual attacks are too many. According to this approach, a prolonged round of offensive incidents (for which Israel never admits direct responsibility) and counter-attacks could very well lead the various sides into an overall conflict.
For over four years in which the horrible civil war in Syria has been going on, and sometimes spilling over into neighboring countries, Israel has successfully maintained a relatively consistent policy: publicly signaling the red lines it will not allow to be crossed (foremost among them, the supply of advanced weaponry from Syria to Hizbollah), preserving a certain 'range of ambiguity' as to the bombing attacks attributed to it, and making significant attempts not to allow the exchange of blows to lead to a broader war.
During this period, Israeli intelligence officials explained that they have not identified interests, on the part of any of the parties, in starting an all-out war. But that is a statement that must be taken with a grain of salt. Similar sentiments were voiced last summer too about the escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, but nevertheless the situation deteriorated and Israel and Hamas fought a war that lasted 51 days.
As the hours pass, the view in Israel is that Monday's strike was the work of the extremist Sunni group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is affiliated with Al-Qa’ida. Battles have been going on for the past few days in the Qalamoun region between the Sunni rebels and Hizbollah and the Syrian army. It is possible that rockets were fired at the Syrian army base there, or that a car bomb was detonated.
But the final word on the matter will most likely belong to Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. If the secretary general of the militant Islamist organization publicly accuses Israel of the attack, it could signal his intentions to initiate a revenge operation.
For its part, Israel's intelligence community has over the years become used to taking Nasrallah’s speeches very seriously. The Shiite leader may sometimes exaggerate in his conspiracy theories and baseless threats, but in most cases he carries through on what he says. All the major operations of Hizbollah in recent years – which were mostly attempts to establish a 'balance of deterrence' that would prevent Israel from attacking inside Syrian and Lebanese territory – were prefaced by rather explicit declarations on Nasrallah’s part.
From the Israeli perspective, of most concern is the possibility of a Hizbollah attempt to equip itself with more accurate missiles that would allow improvement of its capability of targeting Israeli infrastructure sites and air force bases well beyond the borders. The growing worry about such a scenario has been reflected in public announcements over the past few weeks, and especially since the international declaration of the framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue in Lausanne.
There is no doubt that Hizbollah is now the military force of most concern to Israel – not just because of the strength and experience the group gained in recent years, but also due to its ability to influence what is happening in neighboring countries. The organization’s soldiers are active well beyond the borders of Syria and Lebanon. Small numbers of Hizbollah troops were sent recently to help the Shiites in Iraq, too, and probably also to assist the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are backed by Iran.
In his speech Sunday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Israel is committed 'to act with responsibility and careful consideration, not to be tempted by easy and superficial solutions, to respond in a clear, precise and determined manner – but also not to fire from the hip.' Given the complex security situation that continues to develop along the northern border, we must hope that the Israeli leadership will continue to act in line with what it is preaching, and avoid as much as possible being dragged into the inferno that is consuming Syria and so severely threatening the unity of its neighbors."
BETTER THAN NOTHING: Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Paul Kawika Martin says that a nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers will be good for Israel – despite the legitimate concerns being expressed by Jerusalem.
"The historic framework to control Iran’s nuclear program reached by the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France, plus Germany (P5+1), when finalized, will make Israel and the world more secure by thwarting all of Iran’s pathways to make a nuclear weapon and using unprecedented inspections and monitoring to ensure compliance. Without an agreement, by contrast, Iran could produce enough fissile material to make one crude nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks, should it choose to do so, and the threat of war would increase dramatically.
To be sure, there are legitimate concerns for Israel. After sanctions relief, an economically stronger Iran could potentially increase support for organizations like Hizbollah. It is important to note however, that only sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear program will be lifted. Those involving human rights and other issues will remain and can be strengthened if needed.
Both sides of the political spectrum and the vast majority of nonproliferation and nuclear weapon experts and organizations think this framework, once completed and signed, will make the world safer. Similarly, diverse Israelis such as former Israeli chief of military intelligence Amos Yadlin, former director of the Mossad Efraim Halevy, some Israeli media and some American Jewish groups praise the Iran framework and ongoing negotiations.
The finalized agreement will block all four paths by which Iran could produce a simple nuclear bomb. It would decrease by 95 percent the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material for 15 years. It would limit the quantity (by 2/3) and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon for 10 years. It would permanently reconfigure the Arak nuclear reactor (and secure its spent fuel) so it cannot produce any weapons-grade plutonium. And most critically, the accord will block any covert nuclear activities by implementing exhaustive inspections and comprehensive monitoring for 20 years or more.
No agreement is perfect, but under the conditions outlined above, if Iran decided it wanted to build a nuclear weapon, it would take at least a year to make the fissile material required for even a single crude bomb. This does not include the time it would take to figure out the technology to miniaturize a bomb to fit on its existing missiles, build a missile capable of a larger payload or test any resulting system. These technical hurdles could add years to the time it would take Iran to have an effective nuclear warhead and delivery system.
In short, the agreement that has been negotiated sharply limits any progress Iran might make; rolls back their prior program, establishes a strict verification regime and provides Israel and the international community with more than enough time to act in the event that the pact is broken.
It is critical as well to underscore that the agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative. Military strategists, such as retired U.S. Air Force colonel Sam Gardiner, have said repeatedly that a military intervention in Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst start another Middle East war and force Iran to build a nuclear weapon even if it had no such program.
Additionally, support from the international community on the sanctions regime is starting to falter. A failed agreement that is seen to be the fault of the U.S. may cause some sanctions to collapse without getting any benefit in return. While some argue that we should abandon the agreement in favor of even tighter sanctions on Iran, even if more sanctions could be mustered, they would likely only embolden Iranian hardliners and strengthen their argument that negotiating with the international community is fruitless.
Thinking about Iran’s internal politics, former U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, says supporting the agreement buttresses reformists in the country. Another potential benefit to Israel is that a finalized agreement with Iran on its nuclear program may pave the way for more talks on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions. Remember the naysayers about peace with Egypt? That agreement, started with small steps, has lasted over 25 years and brought major undoubted security benefits to Israel.
President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and their security team have met with U.S. Jewish leaders and organizations assuring them that a final accord will be in Israel’s best interest. Still, supporters of Israel should continue to pressure the White House and the U.S. Congress for the best outcome possible. But that pressure should not kill the deal by pushing Congress to pass bad legislation or voting to disapprove the accord.
At the very least, those skeptical that a deal with Iran on its nuclear program is in the best security interest of Israel should withhold final judgment until the June 30 deadline to see what is in the final accord and allow time to see how Iran complies with the agreement. Once finalized, it will be extremely clear that no other good options exist and the steps Iran takes on its nuclear program – verified by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) – will keep it from building a nuclear bomb or let the international community know immediately if it deviates from the agreement."
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