U.S. Policies Toward Israel and Iran: What are the Linkages? | Middle East Policy Council
And this year, Saudi leaders expressed openness to Trump's "deal of the century" that paves the way for new relations with Israel at the. Iranian–Israeli relations can be divided into four major phases: the period from –53, the .. Israel sold Iran US$75 million worth of arms from stocks of Israel Military Industries, Israel Aircraft Industries and Israel Defense Forces stockpiles, . There has been international condemnation of the rocket-firing, which Israel blamed on Iran, with the United States accusing Iran of trying to.
That would entail real U. There is precedent for doing this successfully. It is what Nixon and Kissinger did with China and Egypt in the early s, striking a grand bargain with, at the time, these two rising regional powers in a way that profoundly changed for the better their respective regional environments. In particular, the U. This is a much better scenario than if we had continued to try to contain or roll back Egyptian or Chinese power and influence.
Today, from a strategic perspective, bringing Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah into a diplomatic process and eventually a political settlement would be at least as consequential. For those who buy into the demonization of the Islamic Republic and these groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, it would be useful to remember that it is only in retrospect that the late Anwar Sadat is viewed as a man of peace. But the critical point here is that, without U. And I do so with an amendment to the portrait that Hillary has just given you of what the conventional wisdom is — actually two amendments.
But I do believe that it would help. And it would certainly help with the challenge that we face from Iran. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a very convenient vehicle for doing so. Why would they have intervened in Egyptian efforts recently to reconcile Fatah and Hamas so as to provide a unified Palestinian polity that could make peace with Israel?
Why would they have intervened to prevent Hamas from following through on that agreement? Why, when we were making progress between Israel and Syria, would we suddenly discover Hezbollah launching Katyusha rockets into northern Israel to disrupt those negotiations?
Well, there is a thread that runs through all of this: It says very clearly over and over again that it wishes to destroy Israel, wishes to wipe it off the map. Those are the statements we all have heard very clearly emanating from Tehran, in particular, from its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That is the fundamental inconvenient truth, which cannot be resolved by some mythical grand bargain on the Egyptian model.
Egypt sought to make peace with Israel.
Egypt in the form of President Sadat evicted Soviet advisers in with the express purpose of seeking to build a relationship with the United States and make peace with Israel.
Sadat was very clear about his desire and intention to make peace with Israel before the war. The tragic fact of the matter is that neither Israel nor the United States took him seriously, and he went to war in order to make peace.
But as soon as he had upended the status quo and taken a position across the Suez Canal, he turned to making peace with Israel and never turned back. That is a fundamental difference between the Egyptian model and the Iranian model.
The Iranians have no desire or strategic interest in seeing a grand bargain struck that involves peace and reconciliation with Israel in the Middle East. This is a fundamental reality that we have to find a way to deal with. How to deal with it is, I think, clear.
Hillary has laid out what she refers to as the conventional strategy for doing so. And I think it is one that makes sense. On the one hand, we work as hard as possible to bring together the international community through various mechanisms. The most recent of these were UN Security Council sanctions designed to send a message to Iran that its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons in contravention of its commitments under the [Nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty NPTto which it is a signatory member, will be opposed by the international community.
Successive UN Security Council resolutions have made that position very clear. Iran, of course, has refused to listen. The effort to send a message of unified resolve to Iran was combined last year in an effort to engage Iran in negotiations over its nuclear program, an effort that was spurned by Iran. But the effort by President Obama, which was a sincere effort, failed. Now the effort is to apply more sanctions, not to make war on Iran, but to bring it back to the negotiating table.
That effort to pressure Iran, to make it see that its interests do not lie in disrupting the whole nonproliferation regime, has to be, in my mind, combined with an effort to make peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Precisely because Iran uses the Arab-Israeli conflict to expand its influence in the region, pressure on Iran can indeed be enhanced by a comprehensive effort to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. And yes, that involves both an effort to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel, and it involves an effort to make peace between Israel and Syria.
Hillary cites some statement that the Iranians supported the Syrian negotiation with Israel. The question that Syria had to answer and, I believe, did answer in those negotiations was what its relationships would be with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, were it to make peace with Israel. Why was this a relevant question? Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas have one particular thing in common.
They all espouse the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel, and they do not support peace making with it. Therefore, this question is reasonably posed. If Syria intends to make peace with Israel, what will that peace treaty mean if Syria maintains strategic relations with a country and its proxies that are determined to destroy the very party that Syria is making peace with?
If Syria were to make peace with Israel, it could not maintain the same relationships with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. It would have to change those relationships or Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas would have to make peace with Israel too.
Therefore, it is, I believe, far more effective to try to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Arab states and the Palestinians and to try to find a way to thereby isolate Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas and convince them that violence, terrorism, conflict and destruction, and the abrogation of international obligation, do not achieve a more stable, peaceful and prosperous order for anybody in the Middle East, including the people they purport to represent.
Not even Israeli security experts argue that Iran would ever use a nuclear weapon against Israel or that there is even the threat of that. That is, absent any nuclear weapons, immediately, they should be attacked.
The poll also reported that 70 percent of Israeli Jews said they would not consider emigrating if Iran got the bomb. So there is deep fear.
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Almost every decision that Israel makes about Gaza, about the aid flotilla, about Hamas, about the negotiations in general, is justified by references to Iran. News in Israel is not a politician saying that this is the s, that Iran is Nazi Germany inthat Ahmadinejad is Hitler. Maybe Israel ofto quote her, is not the Jews of Europe in And a fantastic book by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, Foxbats over Dimona, used newly released documents and amazing research techniques to document the fact that the Soviets were egging the Arabs on to provoke Israel into a war that they could exploit to try to take out the budding nuclear capabilities at Dimona.
Hence, the unprecedented deployment of Foxbats in reconnaissance missions over Dimona prior to the war. It may have been a very powerful factor in producing the Six-Day War. More recently, as was already mentioned, we can remember the hysteria that gripped the United States about whether weapons of mass destruction were in fact in the hands of Saddam Hussein — which precipitated what?
A gigantic American war in the Middle East. As was said, Iran has never been very good at projecting conventional military power outside its borders. Ahmadinejad is brilliant at that. I can give you very good examples of how he calculatedly does this for his own interests. But that hysteria has many sources: I want to briefly go over some of those sources so we can see how powerful these feelings are in Israel and what they could be producing.
On its most obvious level, the obsession with Iran, especially by Netanyahu and his government, is actually very simple and very familiar as a calculated distraction from what it does not want the United States and the world to pay attention to. This is just one more ride on the peace-process carousel: And the merry-go-round continues.
So this story about a Galut Jew is actually a story about Israeli right-wing governments, especially. In Central and Eastern Europe, they used to use Jews as intermediaries — tax collectors, enforcers, administrators and so on.
This poretz in Poland gets very angry at his Jew and threatens to kill him. The Jew is desperate. You just give me a year and a bear and I will teach the bear to talk. Nobody can teach a bear to talk, but anyway, what good is that? No, wait a minute. The Jew goes home. His wife says, what are you, crazy?
The poretz will kill you. The husband says, maybe I can teach the bear to talk. But many things can happen in a year.
Maybe the poretz will die. Maybe the bear will die. All of them have some substance, and this has some substance also. But there are other, deeper sources. Every ideology is a combination of a theory and an imperative to action. So when you challenge the theory behind an ideology, you are challenging it. It was all part of one process: You can actually be Islamic. So the future of the Middle East is not necessarily democratic or Western. When the shah — known as, you may recall, the Light of the Aryans — was emperor, his Pahlavi dynasty was put forward as a revival of the ancient Achaemenid dynasty.
It was a Persian and secular, pre-Islamic political formula. The spectacular rise of Iran under the shah was reassuring to Zionism. An ancient Middle Eastern people could reconstitute itself by using ancient myths as legitimizing formulas, even in the modern Middle East, to become secular and modern.
The sudden and complete disappearance of that regime was a shock to Israel, suggesting that the deep, volcanic process in the Middle East might not tolerate this kind of revival of an ancient, secular idea in the modern Middle East — not from the ancient Persians and perhaps not from the ancient Jews or Israelites either. The idea is to teach Arabs, over decades, through a series of defeats, that there is no hope of destroying Israel.
They will have to accept the reality of it. Best reports suggest that Israel, of course, has hundreds of sophisticated nuclear weapons and a highly capable delivery system. In other words, they would get nuclear ambiguity.
This opacity policy that Israel has pursued is another thing that produces hysteria in Israel. Nuclear weapons, if you read Israeli politics closely — and you have to do it very closely because almost everything that has to do with nuclear weapons is censored or coded in language that requires you to know Israeli society extremely well to follow — is the ultimate hot-button issue.
Israel has the best of three different worlds here. That is another thing that is put at risk by the Iranian move, because Iran is trying to do the same thing, which then pushes analysts and policy makers to start to approach the Iranian problem. Finally, we have the Holocaust trauma.
I recommend highly a book by Avraham Burg — The Defeat of Hitler in Hebrew, The Holocaust Is Over in English translation — in which he goes into enormous and brilliant detail about the saturation of Israeli life and psychology with the Holocaust and memorializations of the Holocaust that actually inflict constant post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD on most Jews, but especially Israeli Jews.
If you realize that all of Israeli culture and politics is somewhat permeated by these images of the Holocaust, you can understand how Ahmadinejad is able to push those buttons so easily and produce reactions in Israel that serve his interest. The Holocaust imagery that comes out of Iran — not that they deny the Holocaust, but are even asking questions about it, combined with the idea of nuclear weapons —— puts Israeli elites with children that they could send abroad into intolerable situations.
It could happen in a split-second. Then what do you do? You send your children abroad. There is a real fear that living in a Middle East that is multipolar, that has an ambiguous Iranian nuclear capacity, could encourage even more significant levels of elite emigration. You send part of your business abroad; one kid goes abroad — all of these kinds of tactics. What is the major reality that these two elites are hiding themselves from?
One big one is, of course, the United States. What can we learn from this analysis to clarify the opportunities for U. The men who lead the Islamic Republic of Iran have a similarly intense and existential commitment to preserve their regime and the legacy of the Islamic revolution, despite encirclement.
Here is where I would disagree with some of what Martin said, though I agree with a good deal of it. Think North Korea; think Iraq. What was the difference? Think Iran, for that matter. So both regimes had similarly intense and existential reasons for developing nuclear weapons. The regime will simply not be deflected from this objective, just as Israel was not deflected — not by America, not by anyone else. Because of that, U. This is for foreign consumption.
Now, although the United States cannot stop Iran from establishing an ambiguous nuclear-weapons posture, it can and must begin managing the results of that development to prevent accelerated proliferation, accidents, wars and instability, and further damage to its interests in Iraq and Afghanistan and to its counterterror efforts. It may seem that this could be accomplished without an Israeli-Palestinian settlement if the United States could credibly sponsor a nuclear-weapons and nuclear-power regime for the region that treats all countries equally.
But Israel could participate in such a scheme only if its nuclear capacity were renounced or made public and placed under the international nuclear-weapons and nuclear-power regimes.
Of course, if Iran introduced weapons into the Middle East, then Israel would no longer be the first to introduce them. If it did so, though, it would be the second. This gives rise to some issues. Israeli compliance with this idea is highly implausible in the absence of American or NATO security guarantees, that is, American-extended deterrence with tripwire U.
This cannot happen unless the borders of Israel that are being guaranteed by the American deterrent do not include the West Bank — in other words, if there is a real viable Palestinian state next to it. The choice will be framed by its need for Iranian cooperation in Afghanistan and Iraq, its wider concerns in the region and the domestic political heat that will result from any interest-driven policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.
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The United States will either dissociate itself in an unprecedented way from Israeli governments, allowing that country to come to terms on its own with a multi-polar Middle East by achieving at best a kind of regional hudna [truce], or the United States will combine political pressure on Israel and partnership with it to rescue the two-state solution from the dustbin of history, to which it is otherwise being consigned.
I am going to get out of that mode and, as the clean-up hitter, try to put some of this into perspective. In reflecting on the question of linkages and U. The one that, whether we like it or not, perhaps matters most in shaping U. It is imposed by strong domestic political support for Israel or, more specifically, for a particular conception of Israeli interests and particular Israeli policies, mainly those associated with the Israeli political right.
That political interest has had a very strong constraining influence on U. But the point I am making here is, it has a very strong constraining influence on anything that the Obama administration or anyone else making U. I might add that that view does not, in my judgment, reflect a cogent analysis of likely Iranian decision making. We have heard so often from different quarters the idea of irrational Iranians in Tehran who cannot be trusted to be part of a deterrent relationship.
And somehow this seems to assume that, when one of the parties to a relationship wears a beard and a turban, the principles of deterrence somehow get repealed. And the view of Iranian irrationality does not explain why this regime should be any different from other hostile regimes that we have had to deal with when it comes to nuclear weapons. Of course, the first one we had to deal with was the Soviet Union of Stalin, one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants in modern history.
Then we had to deal with China, when it got the nuclear weapon in That scared me a lot more than anything I hear coming out of Iran. But we have lived in a deterrent relationship, and so have others, with the likes of the Soviet Union and the Chinese. Whether it makes sense or not, the notion that deterrence would not be possible with Iran is a strong political constraint, as I say, on U. It is one of the reasons for the extremely narrow fixation on the Iranian nuclear issue to the exclusion of so much else, even to the exclusion of much having to do with Iran.
I think this becomes all the more a major factor, given what the political pundits tell us about the prospects heading into the midterm elections this fall, in which the governing party faces the prospect of losing control of the House of Representatives and so on. A second level for looking at this question is one that Ian has just finished talking about at some length: For the reasons he described, it is a hysteria that goes well beyond the Netanyahu government, although I agree with him that that government has skillfully and tactically used the issue to distract attention from other things.
But it is a much broader, strongly and understandably felt, deep fear and concern about this particular problem, one that cuts across the Israeli political spectrum.
I would add only a couple of observations to what Ian talked about. One, given the hysteria in Israel, it is not feasible to talk, as many have done, about U. There was a lot of talk when Netanyahu was here that this ought to be one of the key objectives of the talks.
The main goal here for the United States is to ward off the danger of an Israeli military strike on Iran. Resorting to military force in this mode either by Israel or by the United States, which Netanyahu seemed to be encouraging, would be — for reasons that I think Hillary touched on earlier — a disaster for U. The third level is the one where we foreign-policy wonks like to think we usually dwell: I think there are several dynamics to bear in mind.
There is a very calculated political reason why Ahmadinejad spews that execrable anti-Israeli invective. It resonates with a lot of his intended audience, both inside Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East. And let us not confuse rhetoric with reality or propaganda with policy. The Iranian leadership is smart enough to know it is not going to wipe Israel off the map. Even if it did somehow do that, it would thereby deprive itself of one of its main points of leverage for precisely this kind of propaganda.
This means that anything Israel does or fails to do with regard to the occupied territories and the peace process contributes to that influence and to those Iranian propaganda opportunities. In saying this, I urge you to avoid the influence of the absolutist straw-man argument one hears so often: Here they clearly do contribute.
There are more specific forms of influence. Hamas has no particular reason to want to be a client of Iran. We are talking about a bunch of largely Sunni Muslims who are focused on political power over Palestinians. To the extent that Hamas is subject to isolation and strangulation, it will take help wherever it can get it.
One of those sources of help has been Iran, but this is not inherent to what Hamas is all about. Hezbollah clearly is an organization that began life as a creature of Iran and has been a long-time client of Iran.
But even here, now that Hezbollah has established itself as a force in its own right in Lebanese and Middle Eastern politics in the way it has over the last several years, it is not solely a creature of Iran.
There are greater and lesser degrees to which that relationship can be tighter or looser. And I would just add also that the recent death of Sheikh Fadlallah makes the issue all the more germane.
He seemed to have become, at least in his later years, representative of an alternative view, a person who was highly respected and opposed the whole Iranian notion of velayat-e faqih [rule by an Islamic jurist]. Because of the close U. This is a complication in trying to forge coalitions of the willing to contain, confront, influence or constrain Iran.
This is especially so, I would suggest, on the nuclear issue, given that the objective of preventing an Iranian nuke, if we achieve that objective, would mean preserving the Israeli nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. Ian did get into this, of course, in his comments, but until then, it had been an elephant in the room.
The Israeli nuclear arsenal by its very existence weakens a lot of arguments involved in efforts to forestall an Iranian nuke. This includes the argument that the introduction of nuclear weapons in the region would immediately set off a daisy chain of further proliferation. It certainly lends credibility to the view — whether justified or true or not — that what is really involved here is not a problem of nuclear weapons, but rather that some people just like some regimes more than others.
There are a couple of longer-term dynamics that we need to worry about as well. One is the question of how different U. This is too big a topic to explore in detail here, including what all the ramifications would be if U.
I will just make a couple of comments on this. One, it is hard to think of any way in which an alternative U. I think it is easier to think of ways in which it could well make it better by weakening the arguments of the Iranian hardliners, who depend so much on the specter of hostility from the outside world, especially from the United States.
Then the prime objective becomes one of encouraging, in every way we can, a relationship of stable deterrence between what would then be the two nuclear powers of the Middle East: The danger here is not some bolt-out-of-the-blue Iranian nuclear strike against Israel. As Ian pointed out, Israel has a three-decade head-start, with a far, far greater nuclear capability than anything Iran can get in the foreseeable future.
But there are other ways in which a deterrence relationship can be more or less stable. This is something that Cold War theorists and strategists thought a lot about with regard to the U. There are lessons to be learned primarily from that relationship and, more recently, from the Indo-Pakistani relationship, two other relative newcomers that have had to find ways to make their nuclear relationship more stable.
There are things the United States can do by way of teaching and encouraging the two sides on such matters as nuclear posture that discourage first strikes and ensure a second-strike capability, lessons that really go back to the U.
I will close by noting that in looking ahead at how that kind of relationship might work, I am not writing off as a lost cause that Iran might or could stop short of having a nuclear weapon.
I think we are talking about decisions in Tehran not yet made. But it is something we need to think about.
A Reference Handbook Hillary, you are arguing that we cannot achieve objectives like Arab-Israeli peace without a cooperative relationship with Iran. But you did say that Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria are independent actors. So, if a fair deal were offered that was in the interest of Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria, why would they not be able to accept that, even if Iran were not part of the negotiating structure?
At this point, Iran needs to be at least an indirect party to a negotiated resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Iranians would not stand in the way of the red lines that Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah have all laid out for how they want to see a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict go forward. The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States, Yale University Press,Iran's strategic imperatives compelled the Khomeini government to maintain clandestine ties to Israel, while hope that the periphery doctrine could be resurrected motivated the Jewish State's assistance to Iran.
However, at the same time, Iran provided support for Islamist-Shia Lebanese parties, helping to consolidate them into a single political and military organization, Hezbollahand providing them the ideological indoctrination, military training and equipment to attack Israeli and American targets. The same year Israel provided active military support against Iraq by destroying the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdadwhich the Iranians themselves had previously targetedbut the doctrine established by the attack would increase potential conflict in future years.
Most of it was paid for by Iranian oil delivered to Israel. According to Mark Phythian, the fact "that the Iranian air force could function at all" after Iraq's initial attack and "was able to undertake a number of sorties over Baghdad and strike at strategic installations" was "at least partly due to the decision of the Reagan administration to allow Israel to channel arms of US origin to Iran to prevent an easy and early Iraqi victory.
Israeli sales also included spare parts for U. Newsweek also reported that after an Iranian defector landed his F-4 Phantom jet in Saudi Arabia inintelligence experts determined that many of its parts had originally been sold to Israel, and had then been re-exported to Tehran in violation of U.
May Khatami presidency — Under reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatamielected insome believed Iran—Israel relations would improve. Khatami called Israel an "illegal state" and a "parasite,"  but also said in Jews would be "safe in Iran" and all religious minorities would be protected.
The report claims that Iran's peace proposal with Israel was not accepted by the United States. This was believed to be the first time he had spoken publicly with an Israeli.
Katsav said that he shook Khatami's hand and the two had a brief conversation about Iran. However, Khatami denied this. During the Lebanon WarIranian Revolutionary Guards were believed to have directly assisted Hezbollah fighters in their attacks on Israel. Multiple sources suggested that hundreds of Revolutionary Guard operatives participated in the firing of rockets into Israel during the war, and secured Hezbollah's long-range missiles.
Revolutionary Guard operatives were allegedly seen operating openly at Hezbollah outposts during the war. The attack severely damaged the warship and killed four crewmen. It is alleged that between six and nine Revolutionary Guard operatives were killed by the Israeli military during the war. According to the Israeli media their bodies were transferred to Syria and from there, flown to Tehran.
Israel hinted that it was behind the attacks. Two truck convoys were destroyed, and an arms-laden ship was sunk in the Red Sea. Ina wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists began. The assassinations were widely believed to be the work of MossadIsrael's foreign intelligence service. According to Iran and global media sources, the methods used to kill the scientists is reminiscent of the way Mossad had previously assassinated targets. The assassinations were alleged to be an attempt to stop Iran's nuclear program, or to ensure that it cannot recover following a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
On 12 Octoberan explosion occurred at an IRGC military base near the city of Khorramabadkilling 18 soldiers. Shahriari was killed, while Abbasi was severely wounded.
On 23 JulyDarioush Rezaeinejad was shot dead in eastern Tehran. On 11 JanuaryMostafa Ahmadi Roshan and his driver were killed by a bomb attached to their car from a motorcycle. It is believed that it had been developed by US and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran denied that any explosion had occurred, but The Times reported damage to the nuclear plant based on satellite images, and quoted Israeli intelligence sources as saying that the blast indeed targeted a nuclear site, and was "no accident".
The Israel Defense Forces reacted by firing four artillery shells at the area from where the launch originated. It was speculated that the attack was ordered by Iran and Syria as a warning to Israel. Another 12 people were injured, of whom 7 later died in hospital.
The blast killed 17 Revolutionary Guard operatives, including General Hassan Moqaddamdescribed as a key figure in Iran's missile program. Yoram Cohenthe head of Shin Betclaimed that three planned attacks in TurkeyAzerbaijan and Thailand were thwarted at the last minute.
U.S. Policies Toward Israel and Iran: What are the Linkages?
In Georgia, a car bomb failed to explode near the embassy and was safely detonated by Georgian police. In India, the car bomb exploded, injuring four people. Amongst the wounded was the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry employee.
The cell was uncovered when one of their bombs exploded. Police responded, and the Iranian agent present at the house threw an explosive device at officers that tore his legs off, and was subsequently taken into custody. A second suspect was arrested as he tried to catch a flight out of the country, and the third escaped to Malaysiawhere he was arrested by Malaysian Federal Police. It is said Kazmi was an Indian citizen who worked for an Iranian publication. Among the information released was a claim that Israeli commandos, in collaboration with Kurdish fighters, destroyed several underground Iranian facilities used for nuclear and defense research projects.
Iranian officials suspected Mossad or CIA were responsible.