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A watchful eye on the Iran nuclear deal

If the Americans find out that the Iranians are cutting corners on their agreement, the show is over

As a Knesset Member from the leading opposition party, I have a hard time with the agreement that was reached with the Iranians. Yet when speaking to my Israeli friends, I try to explain the rationale of how the Americans negotiated this deal. We in Israel wanted the negotiations to ‘take out’ Iranian nuclear capabilities. We wanted to dismantle, not freeze it. We knew the Iranians were pressed for cash and that their economy is on the verge of collapse. We wanted to take advantage of this economic strain and play hardball. We wanted them to beg for the sanctions to end. But this is not what the Americans wanted. What I tell my friends in Israel is: Americans think differently.

The American economy is built on a “win-win” paradigm. When Americans do business, both sides must gain. This is how the U.S became a global economic superpower. When it comes to the Middle East Israelis perceive this as naïve. It may be right for New York or D.C, but does this attitude have a place in the robust bazar that is the Middle East?

As an entrepreneur who was fortunate enough to take part in the Israeli “Start-up Nation,” I’ve done my share of business with Americans. Whoever has done business with Americans can tell you one thing – you can only cheat them once. If they catch you cheating, you’re through; they’ll never do business with you again.

This is how Americans think, and this is how they will handle this agreement. If they find out that the Iranians are being deceitful, lying or even slightly cutting corners on their agreement, the show is over. They will never do business with them again.

The United States is Israel’s greatest and most trusted ally. Even if we do not completely agree with the merits of this deal, or the strategy of the negotiations, we must trust our ally, while keeping a watchful eye on Iran.

Our watchful eye is here for a reason; Israel must not forget that the 2003 Tehran Agreement reached with the Europeans was breached. The negotiations were merely a smokescreen for continuing the nuclear program, paid for with oil money sold to Europe. The Iranians are patient, they are resolute in compromising speed for result. Let us remember that Rouhani was one of the architects of the Iran’s diplomatic strategy. We will keep our eye closely on the ball. These past experiences are why we are worried here in Israel, and are the bases of our frustration, and fear.

As the Israeli opposition we will try and keep a constructive attitude towards the agreement, while being united with the determination of the government in categorically objecting to Iran possessing military nuclear capabilities.

Let’s hope the Iranians mean business, and that they understand the full implications of doing business with Americans.

About the Author
Dr. Erel Margalit is a Member of Knesset from the Labor Party. He was the founder and managing partner of the Jerusalem-based venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP). Margalit serves on the Knesset Finance Committee and the Science and Technology Committee.
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