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April 14, 2015

Ya'alon: Israel Does Not Want War with Iran

Writing in The Washington Post (“Current Iran framework will make war more likely,” April 9, 2015 online, “A risky deal with Iran,” April 10 in print), Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon refuted accusations his country would like to see the United States attack Iran on its behalf.

“The claim that the only alternative to the framework is war is false,” Ya’alon insisted. “It … stifles honest and open debate by suggesting that if you don’t agree, you must be a warmonger. It also feeds and reflects the calumny that Israel in particular is agitating for war.”

The Israeli defense minister pointed out that Iran’s Supreme Leader (a term that a few writers have said echoes Adolf Hitler’s self-designation as der fuehrer, the leader), Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his nuclear negotiators already were disagreeing with the White House over the framework’s terms.

As Ya’alon and others observed, this was hardly surprising given the nature of the regime and history of hiding its illegal nuclear program. Disagreement over the framework’s requirements almost as soon as they had been announced further highlighted the risk inherent in trusting Iran’s revolutionary Islamic Republic to keep its word.

Not only did Israel not want to drag the United States into a war, as some critics have alleged, the reverse is true. His country has a vested interest in avoiding war with the Iranian regime, Ya'alon wrote. Alluding to Iranian leaders’ oft-stated insistence Israel must be annihilated and Tehran’s supply of tens of thousands of rockets to its Hezbollah surrogate in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ya’alon said Israel would “pay the highest price if force is used by anyone.”

Ya’alon, a retired three-star general (Israel’s highest military rank) and former chief of staff, wrote that he has seen war personally and been “forced to bury some of my closest friends.” For such reasons, he opposed a deal he said makes war more likely.

Israelis know, Ya’alon stressed, that “the United States is Israel’s greatest friend and strategic ally.” Rather than war with Iran, Israel seeks a better deal that actually achieves what negotiators set out to: rolling back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, he said.

A better deal, according to Ya’alon, would link “lifting of restrictions on its nuclear program to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its terrorism across the globe and its threats to annihilate Israel.” He noted Iran’s aggressive arming, financing, and training of terrorist and proxy groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, throughout the Middle East and beyond. Not taking an expansionist Iran under its messianic theocracy at its word on nuclear negotiations but maintaining and increasing preexisting pressure, according to Ya’alon, would be the best bet to prevent conflict.

Indirect support for Ya’alon’s position preceded his Post Op-Ed. Surveying threats on the horizon, General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and U.S. commander in Iraq during the “surge” of American troops there, stated in a recent interview “…when it comes to Iraq, I frankly worry less about Islamic State than I do about the Iranian-backed Shia militias.” Petraeus also expressed his mistrust of Iranian claims regarding the purportedly peaceful purposes of its nuclear program. Petraeus said that underlying such skepticism “isn’t just a U.S. or Israeli judgment,” but one shared by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Sean Durns

Posted by ER at April 14, 2015 04:07 PM

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