Progress on Iran Nuclear Agreement Infuriates Israel

November 9th, 2013 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & John Glaser / – 2013-11-09 01:06:44

Obama Aims to Calm Israeli Fury at Prospect of Iran Deal

Obama Aims to Calm Israeli Fury at Prospect of Iran Deal
Jason Ditz /

(November 8, 2013) — Negotiating a long, complicated rapprochement with Iran seems like a full time job all on its own, but the Obama Administration is also finding keeping Israel from flying off the handle at the prospect of a deal even more challenging.

President Obama had to call Prime Minister Netanyahu again to reassure him of America’s “commitment,” even though Secretary of State John Kerry was just there doing the exact same thing, and a big focus seems to be just convincing Netanyahu not to angrily condemn deals that aren’t even finished being made yet.

That was followed up by the White House issuing a somewhat annoyed statement saying it was “premature” to condemn the deal as bad since it isn’t even finalized.

Netanyahu, for his part, seems inconsolable, insisting that the deal, whatever it is, is a bad one, and reiterating threats of war on the eve of the historic pact.

Even the Israeli press is beginning to express concern at Netanyahu’s anti-diplomacy bend, fearing that it is becoming apparent that no deal is good enough to satisfy the Israeli government, which would mean there’s no real reason to pay attention to their complaining at all.

Why Netanyahu Is So Enraged by a Deal with Iran
John Glaser /

(November 8, 2013) — Secretary of State John Kerry’s last minute decision to make a surprise visit to Geneva, Switzerland, where negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran are rapidly progressing, led to an enormous amount of speculation that a first-step deal was imminent and may even be signed today [1].

Details of the first-phase deal are limited and speculative, but the broad contours are that Iran would halt its enrichment program (whatever that means) for 6 months in exchange for “very limited” and “reversible” sanctions relief. During that 6 months, a more comprehensive grand bargain would be hashed out, which would probably include Iran making the following concessions in return for greater sanctions relief: halting all production of 20% enriched uranium; converting much of its stockpile to fuel rods; and much greater access for international inspections.

To Iran hawks, that should sound like a damn good deal. Under those conditions of less enrichment and greater transparency, the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon would be transparently unfeasible.

Why, then, have the Iran hawks responded with outrage? Not only is Congress responding to this good news by ratcheting up [2] additional sanctions in a clear attempt to derail negotiations and set us back on the war path, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nearly hyperventilated with fury over the diplomatic progress.

So a deal that would further handicap Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons and enhance the international community’s ability to confirm through inspections that there is no diversion of enriched material to some covert program is “a bad deal” that would bury [3] “the possibility of having a peaceful resolution”? What?

If you see this as irrational, you’re not alone. Here’s the Foreign Minister of Sweden tweeting about Bibi’s outburst:

Carl Bildt ✔ @carlbildt
Somewhat strange that Israel PM Netanyahu is able to condemn the possible deal with Iran as “bad” even before it has been done.
5:40 AM – 8 Nov 2013

Carl Bildt ✔ @carlbildt
Irrational that Israel is trying to block efforts to reach a reasonable deal with Iran on nuclear issue. Endless confrontation no policy.
10:48 PM – 7 Nov 2013

Israel and hawks in Congress are upset because they believe anything less than total capitulation from Iran, total dismantling of their entire domestic enrichment program, is unacceptable. But Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, reveals the actual reason [6] this deal (any deal) with Iran enrages Netanyahu:

I can understand why Netanyahu is so furious. A unilateral military option would have no real chance now. Not because we can’t do it, but because it would be seen as moving against the whole international community. That is something Israel cannot afford.

Any deal with Iran, no matter how lopsided and favorable to the Western powers, would enshrine Iran’s limited enrichment program as legitimate in the eyes of the international community. From the Israeli perspective, that kind of disallows a rogue preventive strike on Iran, a privilege they want to preserve.

In other words, a deal with Iran means Israel can’t launch an illegal war. Ouch.


[1] may even be signed today:

[2] ratcheting up:

[3] would bury:

[4] November 8, 2013:

[5] November 8, 2013:

[6] reveals the actual reason:

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