Israel hopes that one day her national soccer team makes the world cup. Iran strives for nuclear weapons. Right now it seems that Iran might get her wish first.
As to the world soccer tournament and Iran’s nuclear project Israel depends to a large extent on other nations. Yet, while in sport the latter would have to lose the games to Israel, with Iran they would have to win, for Israel and for other states as well. Much is in the hands of the international community, primarily the United States. Fortunately for Israel it does not have to rely on Americans’ worldwide reputation in soccer but on their well known skills in other areas, that are also fairly important.
In 1990 – Iraq, as Iran today, was a growing regional power in the Middle East. Israel and Arab states, mostly those near Iraq in the Persian Gulf, had deep concerns about Iraq. In 1991 an international coalition, under the leadership of the United States, went after Iraq, destroying a significant part of the Iraqi military machine in the process. This was quite a relief for Israel and Arab states in the Persian Gulf, considering the military might and the ambitions of Iraq at the time.
In early 1991, in spite of all the diplomatic negotiations with Iraq, the latter refused to leave Kuwait and paid an enormous price for that blunder. Iran’s fate might be the same if the talks between her and the P5 +1 break down because Iran insists not to accept limitations on her nuclear program.
Yet there is another historical example in which Israel tried to rely on the international community, including the United States, in a matter of top national security. In early June 1967 Arab states mostly Egypt prepared for war against Israel. Egypt deployed seven divisions in Sinai, near Israel. For Israel, Egypt was then a clear and present danger, just as a nuclear Iran might be.
In 1967 Israel did not demand the demolishment of the Egyptian military, just the removal of most of its troops from Sinai, and the return to the unofficial status quo that had existed in the peninsula until then.
Now Israel could agree to another compromise. Lately, following the talks between the P5+1 and Iran, there was a chance for a deal in which Iran would have gained the capability to develop nuclear weapons without actually creating a bomb. Israel would not be satisfied with this outcome, but this could have been the best Israel could hope for without risking an attack on Iran with all its dangerous ramifications.
Yet Iran and the P5+1 did not manage to reach an understanding.
Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, argued on August 12 2012 that the international community must declare that the negotiations with Iran did not succeed. Then, if Iran continues with her nuclear program the military option should be considered. In 1967 Israel did give the international community time to resolve the crisis diplomatically, albeit three weeks. Israel might conclude again that the peaceful approach of the international community is not working, and Israel has no choice but to take the matter into her own hands and implement military measures.
In conclusion Israel must decide whether to act alone as in 1967, or depend on the international community as it did in 1991.
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