What message do the latest missile tests by Iran send to Israel, and to the international community? Why is Iran carrying out these missile tests now? What implications will they have for the nuclear agreement and for Israel? Who is gaining the upper hand in Iran: the government or the regime? How should Israel view the recent developments in Iran ?
These are some of the questions answered by the Israeli panelists in Jerusalem, which were:
- Amir Oren is a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He writes about defense and military affairs, the government and international relations.
- DR Eldad Pardo teaches at the Rothberg School, Hebrew University, Research Director at The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE).
- Meir Javedanfar teaches at the IDC Herzliya and is a researcher at the Meir Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Haifa University
The interview below with Yossi Alpher who was the Mossad’s former Iran desk officer reveals how the Mossad turned down a request by former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiyar to assassinate Ayatollah Khomeini.
He also talks about how if the current regime in Iran changes its stance towards Israel, there would be a very long line of Israelis willing to reestablish ties and to do business with the regime in Tehran, and the sense of betrayal which some Israelis feel towards president Obama.
You can watch the interview here:
Yesterday Amir Oren published a piece in Haaretz about the Iran deal and the view of some of Iran analysts working for the Israeli military intelligence. Among other things, in the article he states:
“There are those in the Intelligence Corps, including those in the research division dealing with Iran, who have a very positive view of the nuclear agreement. “
Last night I was interviewed alongside Amir for the i24 news program, where Amir discussed his article in more details. He also mentioned an unprecedented intelligence sharing offer being made by the U.S which would give Israel access to raw intelligence material which no one else except the US would have. Netanyahu has not accepted this offer.
And how some in the military intelligence community are very concerned about the damage being caused to the Israel – US relations.
You can watch interview here:
Two days ago, The Foreign Press Association in Israel (FPA) invited Dr Dore Gold, the Director General of the Israel Foreign Ministry and the former head of the Conservative Think Tank JCPA to present the Israeli government’s position on Iran and the nuclear talks.
The FPA then gave me the floor to comment on the official Israeli government’s position, as presented by Dr Gold.
The summary of both of our comments was published in this report by the Jerusalem Post.
Just one correction: where it says “Iran’s ethnic cleansing of Sunnis ” is wrong. I stated “Iran regime Shiite allies ethnic cleansing of Sunnis”
Here is a summary of my points.
Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian- born analyst who now lives in Tel Aviv and lectures at the IDC Herzliya, took issue with some of Gold’s statements Because Iran is obliged to allow inspection of undeclared sites, it cannot hide nuclear activity, he insisted.
“Nuclear material is extremely difficult to remove from air, land, or water,” he said, and therefore no matter what Iran might do, it would not succeed in hiding its nuclear operations.
The deal is not about trusting the Iranian regime, he insisted. “When it’s not in their interests they don’t keep deals. When it is in their interests they keep deals that others would throw away. Nobody trusts the Iranian regime, but you have to look at their political eco system. It’s not a question about trust. It’s a question about mistrust and verification.”
Javedanfar also made the point that if the Iranians had wanted to make a nuclear weapon, they would have done so before the agreement.
He suggested that what the West does not understand is that “in Iran there is a regime and there is a government, and we have to make that distinction.”
President Hassan Rouhani does not make any decisions without the instructions or approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Javedanfar, who remarked that Khamenei is now distancing himself from Rouhani and letting him take the blame for anything that looks like compromise on Iran’s part in the agreement.
“If you want a moderate Iran, you have to worry about Rouhani,” he said.
Javedanfar left room for hope by saying that “Iran’s image in the region is starting to nosedive.” Iran’s ethnic cleansing of Sunnis is impacting on the region and is contributing to a strong anti-Iran coalition, said Javedanfar.
Talking peace with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would make Israel’s position more acceptable in the region, he added.
As an Iranian who knows the language and the mentality of his former fellow countrymen, Javedanfar was adamant that “the Iranian regime is not an existential threat to Israel. It is a strategic threat.”
In 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israel Defense Forces to increase their level of preparedness, in order to entice Iran to attack Israel. They were hoping to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in retaliation.
The former head of the Mossad Meir Dagan and the former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi refused this order. Why were they not imprisoned? because Netanyahu and Barak were acting illegally. They had issued the order, without consulting the security cabinet. This is a decision to be made by the security cabinet and not just the Prime Minister and Defence Minister. Thats why. Otherwise the head of Israel armed forces have no right to refuse the order of the Israeli public’s democratically elected representatives. If they do so, they would be breaking the law.
At this year’s Jerusalem Post conference, Caroline Glick, the hard-line conservative editor of the Jerusalem Post attacked Dagan and Ashkenazi for not attacking Iran, and for not listening to Netanyahu’s illegal orders. And she was applauded by the participants!
Watch her remarks and Meir Dagan’s reaction. #Classic. This is the same conference in which Obama’s Secretary of Treasury was booed.
And now Yinon Magal, a member of the extremist Bayit Yehudi party wants Dagan and Ashkenazi to be subpoenad for having refused Netanyahu’s (illegal) order. Good luck with that! The law in Israel is on their side.
Israel’s policy has always been that Iran must not be allowed to retain any enrichment capacity. Zero enrichment, zero centrifuges.
In fact this was one of the linchpins of Netanyahu’s speech before the Congress. One of the main reasons why he lambasted the negotiations was because they would allow Iran to have limited enrichment capacity on its soil.
However, two days after his election as Prime Minister, in an interview with MSNBC, Netanyahu suddenly changed course.
In the MSNBC interview, however, he made a significant concession, saying Israel could tolerate a limited uranium enrichment capacity for Iran, although with a number lower than the 6,500 reported to be part of an emerging deal.
“A smaller number is something Israel and its Arab neighbors wouldn’t love but could live with,” he said.
By the look of things, not only Netanyahu’s Congress speech failed to convince any Congressmen to change their mind regarding the Iran deal, but as it turns out the only person who seems to have changed their stance towards the Iran negotiations since then is Prime Minister Netanyahu himself.
Welcome to the world of Realpolitik Mr Netanyahu. No one wants the Iranian regime to have nuclear weapons. But your zero enrichment demand was so unrealistic that it hurt Israel’s credibility.
And no, limited enrichment capacity under tough inspections will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons as soon as it chooses. Robert Einhorn, one of the world’s foremost experts in this subject explains succinctly why in this op-ed.
For for the record, your truly and Brigadier General Shlomo Brom were the first Israeli specialists of this topic to have the guts to go on the record as far back as in October 2012 to state that Israel could live with limited enrichment on Iranian soil. This was not an easy statement for two Israelis to make as back then Ahmadinejad was still in office and we were still being subjected to his vicious anti-Israel rhetoric.