What Will Bibi Do Next?
It had been over a month since nuclear talks with Iran collapsed. The holidays have come and gone and everyone feels safe again. While many are still alarmed by the failed negotiations, President Obama’s demeanor seems to convey that these fears are unfounded. Iran seems to be cooperating overall and maybe, just maybe, the current government under President Hassan Rouhani actually has peaceful intentions behind its nuclear energy program.
Mohammad Javad-Zariff, Iran’s foreign affairs minister, has reassuringly said, ”[w]e have repeatedly said that if there is political will and there are no excessive demands, we will be ready to accept a logical, fair and rational solution.” Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama Administration are strong believers in the Iranian’s words. As Mr. Kerry was recently quoted, “[b]ecause I believe, President Obama believes, the administration believes that it would be the height of irresponsibility, it would be against our own interests and those of our closest partners, to walk away from a table when and if a peaceful resolution might really be within reach.” The leaders of Iran and the United States, it would seem, are partners in peace. The United States is interested in keeping the world safer, and by agreeing to limit Iran’s nuclear power, the international community would be at ease. For Iran, the lifting of sanctions would restore its crippling economy and collapsing currency, and perhaps assuage longstanding tensions with Saudi Arabia, which has long been wary of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
This outcome seems favorable for both countries – and every other country in the world – so why does neither pursue it? Although the United States would like to broker a peace deal with Iran, the Obama Administration is still cautious of Iran and must keep their international image in mind since other countries will see any concession or outstretched hand to Iran as a sign of weakness and appeasement. Yet, while the immediate threat of a nuclear Iran is going to the back the United States’ mind, it is still looming for another country: Israel. For Israel, a country less than 1200 miles from Iran, it is nearly impossible to forget the imminent danger of Iran’s ability to create a nuclear weapon. While the world only knows about their uranium enrichment plants, the Israeli public does not really have a grasp on how much Iran has developed their nuclear program.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly advocated for increased sanctions. His voice is heard as the strongest opposition to any compromise with Iran. He does not see a world in which it would be possible that Iran would be producing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. While his grip on reality seems accurate, his diplomatic appeal toward the United States is in check. The Obama Administration has ignored nearly all of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s thoughts on the conflict. Which is not surprising since over the past few months, the opinions of many Israeli officials have been invalidated with sharp disagreements with officials from the United States. It seems as if Mr. Kerry and Netanyahu’s interactions are indicative of the current state of the U.S.-Israel relationship. As opposed to aiding in each with their different opinions, they are turning into schoolyard children who call each other names.
Mr. Kerry has stayed firm in his opinion. He has repeatedly come out against Netanyahu saying that if the negotiations succeed, “the entire world — including Israel — will be safer for it.” While Mr. Kerry has repeatedly demonstrated his confidence in this conviction, Netanyahu does not seem convinced. He has ignored Kerry’s opinion while repeating his own, hoping that the repetition will lead to persuasion. This gridlock is one that will never lead to a resolution. Netanyahu seems to get more belligerent every time they meet. Understandably so, Mr. Netanyahu, better than anyone else in the world, is aware of how non-negotiable Israel’s security is. Netanyahu, as a man who deeply understands people’s actions, knows that Israel cannot be safe with a nuclear Iran. He will do almost anything to protect his people. No one is denying that; in this regard, he is admirable with his imperviousness and does not embody a demagogic facade.
However, with Israeli elections fast approaching in March and Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party suffering in the polls, there is no telling what Mr. Netanyahu will attempt to do to protect Israel. It seems more likely that with the United States not responding to Israel’s calls for action against Iran, Mr. Netanyahu may be willing to take drastic steps before the March elections. Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the United States, and the world, that it may seek to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. In the past Israel has not been afraid to bomb a belligerent country’s nuclear program (here are some examples) . Israel is efficient and effective in clandestine operations in order to preserve the security of their people.
Now seems like the perfect time to for Netanyahu to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. This may seem drastic, but with nothing to lose, Mr. Netanyahu may be willing to take unprecedented action against Iran, more dramatic than what has been seen before. He will not back down until Israel is a safe place. If this means ignoring international wishes, he may be prepared to do it.
- Naomi Kadish