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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Netanyahu meant by an 'understanding' with Obama on Iran

Eli Lake reports in the Washington Times on what Binyamin Netanyahu meant when he said that he and President Obama had reached an understanding on Iran. The US and Israel are forming a working group to trade intelligence information and assessments on Iran. Of course, the US is going to use it as a means for keeping tabs on any Israeli plans to pursue hostile action against Iran. The report is based on information from unnamed Israeli officials.
The Israeli officials, who asked not to be named because they were describing private conversations between the two leaders, said the working group would begin to examine contingency plans now in case Iran continues a nuclear weapons program. Mr. Obama, for his part, refused to set a deadline for diplomacy, but said he would be able to assess the progress of U.S. outreach to Iran by the end of this year.


The two leaders authorized aides to form the working group Monday following one-on-one Netanyahu-Obama talks. Officials familiar with the consultations said that final details are still being discussed but that the American side would be represented either by deputy national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon or by national security adviser James L. Jones. The Israeli side would be represented by Mr. Jones' counterpart, Uzi Arad.


"There's always been a U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue that spends a lot of time focusing on Iran," said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. "So this may just be institutionalizing a dialogue that already exists. To the extent that it gives the Israelis a greater sense of buy-in to the diplomatic process, it's positive. But it could also exacerbate Iranian paranoia about U.S. intentions and Israel's role in formulating U.S. foreign policy."
Actually, increasing Iranian paranoia may be a good thing, as it might slow down their nuclear weapons development.

But the most interesting part of Lake's article is who is in favor and who is against the 'new' dialogue. John Hannah, former national security adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney seems to downplay its significance, but Flynt Leverett, an advocate of a 'grand bargain' between the US and Iran, is afraid that the working group will undermine US diplomatic approaches to Iran. That may well be a good thing.

Read it all.


At 12:55 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Or it may be turn out to be giving the US a veto over an Israeli attack on Iran. That would not be a good development.

So we'll have to wait and see how this U.S-Israeli understanding works out in the real world.


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