Israel in a Post-Deal World

Sep 09, 2015 Published under Iran, Israel

HAIFA, Israel — THE day after six world powers reached a nuclear agreement with Iran in July, the Israeli Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee called on Israel’s government to “continue to closely follow the precise and strict implementation” of the agreement “to ensure that Iran is not continuing to fool the international community as it did in the past, while strengthening the historic alliance between the United States and Israel.”

In early August, nearly 70 former senior members of Israel’s defense community, myself included, published an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to accept the nuclear deal as an “accomplished fact.” We also called on the Israeli government to renew trust and improve “political and security cooperation” with the United States.

Those appeals — one from a committee controlled by members of Mr. Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, the other representing Israel’s security establishment — share the same premise: In order to act effectively on our skepticism of Iran’s intentions and trustworthiness, Israel must enhance that historic alliance with America. Let the signing of the pact unite us, rather than divide us, as allies who know Iran may cheat and who, together, must be ready to stop it when that happens.

What I and my fellow signatories oppose is Mr. Netanyahu’s spiteful public battle with America’s president — precisely because it risks limiting cooperation in monitoring Iran. Mr. Netanyahu needs to recognize that the nuclear accord is a done deal.

He must stop fighting with the Obama administration and remove himself from the debate in Congress over the accord. Otherwise, he is jeopardizing an alliance that has been the cornerstone of Israel’s security for decades, and is undermining Israel’s defense. Killing the deal would kill American leadership in the Middle East, and that would damage Israel’s security.

Instead of battling the Obama administration, the Israeli government must cooperate with it to face the challenges the deal presents and jointly prepare for the post-deal world. The outcome of the deal, over the next 15 years, will depend on what steps the United States and Israel take now.

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