Netanyahu Must Urge a Suspension of Iran’s Nuclear Program

If Iran's president wants economic prosperity, he should have no problem agreeing that while he and the powers conduct talks, uranium enrichment should be suspended.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

Here's something you don't usually hear around these parts: Israel is right.

Israel is right because the last decade's diplomacy has failed, the recent years' sanctions have failed and Iran is very close to its goal. Israel is right because the solemn promises it received from the United States before the presidential election have turned out empty.

Israel is right because it’s clear the West's firmness vis-a-vis Tehran was imaginary. Israel is right because Iran has crossed every red line the world has put before it since 2010 – and the world is paralyzed. The Iranian nuclear demon is a real demon that can soon break loose and change everything.

But precisely because Israel is right, it is isolated. The international community of 2013 is posttraumatic. This stems from the economic crisis, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tahrir Square and Syria. The statesmen meeting at UN headquarters in New York this week represent a feeble policy of whitewashing the situation and deceiving oneself. The world lacks proper management or spine; it lacks the vision to stand up to the Iranian nuclear program. So it ignores the fact that Israel is right and drives Israel into a corner.

The person who embodies Israel's rightness more than anyone is Benjamin Netanyahu. This time Israel's prime minister is supposed to receive applause in New York; he was the only statesman who put Iran at the center of the international agenda, and he was right. He was the only statesman who raised hell in his efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program, and he was right. He was the statesman who argued even before the Syrian events that only a military threat combined with a strategic diplomatic initiative could deal with a radical state with weapons of mass destruction.

But even though he won the great ideological argument on Iran, no one is willing to hear Bibi’s bleak truth. No one will let Netanyahu ruin the great delusion party. The nations are united in their desire not to let Jerusalem’s prophet of doom torpedo the peace in our time marketed by the trendy illusion salesman from Tehran.

Twelve years ago Ariel Sharon made the Czechoslovakia speech. Netanyahu has every reason to make his own Czechoslovakia speech at the United Nations next week. The Munich spirit is in the air. There are troubling similarities between the spirit of the times in London and Paris of 1938 and the spirit of the times in London and New York of 2013. The temptation to speak Churchillian is strong, but Netanyahu must not be tempted. He must tell the world the truth it refuses to hear, but he must lay a practical, creative proposal on the table.

The proposal is simple – suspension. As U.S. President Barack Obama demanded that the Israeli-Palestinian talks be tied to suspending construction in the settlements, Netanyahu must demand that the American-Iranian talks be tied to suspending the progress on Iran's nuclear capability.

The argument is that President Hassan Rohani is different. The argument is that Rohani is ready to renounce the nuclear program for economic prosperity. Good. If so, Rohani should have no problem agreeing that while he and the powers conduct talks, the uranium enrichment and centrifuge construction should be completely suspended. Not one enriched kilogram more. Not one centrifuge more.

The suspension initiative is vital - it’s the only thing that will put the Iranians and the international community to the test of truth. If it's rejected, it will be clear to everyone who and what we’re facing. If it's accepted, the atomic time pressure will be relieved; there will be no reason to make rash decisions. Only a proposal to freeze the Iranian nuclear program immediately will get Israel out of the right-but-isolated corner it finds itself in.

Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the UN about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.Credit: AP

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