Israel Has to Give Iran Nuclear Talks a Chance

Israel can take credit for the international mobilization on Iran, but it must not dismiss in advance the diplomatic effort and treat it as redundant and hopeless.

The talks due to be renewed in Istanbul on Saturday between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany have already been dubbed "the last diplomatic opportunity."

Despite this, it is doubtful the meeting will yield decisive results that would calm down the West and Israel, or, alternatively, make it clear there is no other option but a military offensive.

A nuclear reactor in Bushehr

There have been reports that U.S. President Barack Obama will present a more flexible stance regarding the development of Iran's nuclear program for peaceful purposes. The Iranians have declared their intention of enriching only a limited amount of uranium to a 20-percent level, which is a potential transition stage to weapons-grade fuel. These reports indicate both sides will present proposals that could form a basis for continued dialogue.

Israel does not believe, perhaps rightly so, in the power of diplomacy to remove the Iranian threat. It continues to brandish the sword of attack on Iran. The differences between the prime minister and defense minister involve secondary issues. The threat of attack, even if not real, has already raised international support for imposing unprecedented sanctions on Iran, while at the same time accelerating the diplomatic process.

At this stage, and at least until the diplomatic move's results are clear, the ball is in the court of the world powers, which fear an Israeli attack no less than the Iranian nuclear weapon. Such an attack, the leading nations presume, could embroil the region in war, undermine stability and damage their vital interests.

Israel can take credit for the international mobilization, designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear program for military purposes. But it also means Israel must not dismiss in advance the diplomatic effort and treat it as redundant and hopeless.

Israel's confidence in its ability to attack Iranian nuclear sites successfully may be valid; but the cost in life such an attack would exact and the risk of confrontation with the international powers following a disputed attack require Israel to support the diplomatic move, refrain from judging it before it has begun - and first and foremost listen to what all sides have to say.