Facing Iran with Obama
Yom Kippur 2009 bore two pieces of news for Israelis. The bad news was Iran's ground-to-ground missile test. The good news was that the Western powers are facing off against Iran.
Yom Kippur 2009 bore two pieces of news for Israelis. The bad news was Iran's ground-to-ground missile test. The good news was that the Western powers, led by the United States, are facing off against Iran and threatening to increase sanctions against it following the discovery of a secret uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom.
The plant's discovery and the missile launches have made more clear the increasing Iranian threat to Israel - just days after the leaders of Iran and Israel addressed the United Nations General Assembly and accused each other's countries of "barbarism." Talks are to begin the day after tomorrow between Iran and the major powers, among them the United States, but success seems unlikely considering the developments of the past few days.
Bringing the Iranian nuclear program to a halt is a prime Israeli interest, but so is preventing escalation and being dragged into a regional war. That is the route Israeli strategy must take: strengthening deterrence along with cooperation and coordination with the United States. That is the course of action that should be taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, which has made the lifting of the Iranian threat its top priority.
When U.S. President Barack Obama took office, he pledged to hold a dialogue with the Iranian regime to forge a stable arrangement for the Middle East. Iran has rejected public and private offers of dialogue, and agreed only belatedly to talks with the major powers.
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has been weakened by revelations of fraud in its presidential elections and by the suppression of the opposition. The discovery of the secret uranium enrichment facility has undermined Iran's credibility in the West and has led Obama to adopt a more aggressive approach.
Under these circumstances, Israel should support Obama and give him the chance to exhaust the move combining dialogue with the threat of sanctions. This is not the time for Jerusalem to threaten and badger. The Iranian threat is not only Israel's problem, it's that of the entire international community. It's best for Israel if the issue is dealt with on an international level.