It is no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have never been close, but now is the time for the two leaders to find common ground over the Iranian nuclear issue. The U.S. and Israel clearly differ in where their red lines lie. The U.S. has put the focus on Iran actually gaining a nuclear weapon, while Israel – more vulnerable to Iranian missiles due to its geographic proximity – views the threshold as the Iranian regime’s acquisition of enough low-enriched uranium to build a bomb, pending a political decision to convert it to weapons-grade fuel.
The other set of differences has to do with how long the U.S. and Israel are willing to wait before judging the international sanctions of Iran to be a success or failure. Israeli officials fear they might not have the time to wait and see whether the sanctions halt Iran’s nuclear program peacefully.
Israeli considerations of a strike are rooted not in their ethos of self-reliance, but in the fear that the U.S. will ultimately fail to strike, even if sanctions fail. The U.S. and Israel need to come to a more precise understanding of U.S. thresholds for the Iranian nuclear program and American responses should they be breached, as well as an agreement on a timetable for giving up on sanctions. The writer is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(David Makovsky – Foreign Policy)