Israel’s Critique of U.S. Iran Policy – Robert Satloff (Politico)
- Israel’s critique of U.S. Iran policy has three key aspects:It is patently disingenuous to ask Israel or domestic detractors of a “first step” deal to withhold their criticism until after the agreement is signed, which is the administration’s position, since there would then be zero chance to affect an outcome already reached.
- In terms of strategy, Israel worries that the administration quietly dropped its longtime insistence that Iran fulfill its UN Security Council obligation to suspend all enrichment activities and that an end to enrichment is no longer even a goal of these negotiations.
- In terms of tactics, Israel cheers the administration’s imposition of devastating sanctions on Iran but fears that the near-agreement in Geneva would have wasted the enormous leverage that sanctions have created in exchange for a deal that, at most, would cap Iran’s progress without any rollback of Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and no commitment to mothball the worrisome Arak plant, which could provide an alternative plutonium-based path to a nuclear weapon.
- Operationally, Israel has complained that it was kept in the dark on details of the proposed Geneva deal, despite commitments from Washington to keep Jerusalem fully apprised.
- It didn’t help matters that Washington and Jerusalem had a parallel crisis of confidence on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Secretary of State Kerry inexplicably lost his cool when Israel announced construction approval for new apartments in disputed territory, itself a political response to Palestinian jubilation at Israel’s release from prison of 26 hardened terrorists.
- 90% of those apartments are to be built either in existing Jewish neighborhoods within Israel’s capital, or on land on the “Israeli side” of the West Bank security barrier that is likely to end up in Israel’s control in any agreement.
- Kerry’s surprisingly ferocious reaction was to lump all construction together and denounce it, publicly question Israel’s commitment to peace, rhetorically ask whether Israel prefers a third intifada and wonder aloud whether Israel will ever get its troops out of the West Bank – troops that have worked with Palestinian security forces to fight terrorism and prevent the spread of Hamas influence.
The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.