Yadlin: Israel should work with Democrats, Republicans to prevent bad Iran deal

Zionist Union's candidate for defense tells 'Post' Election Arena that Netanyahu's Congress address is counterproductive.

February 24, 2015 09:37
4 minute read.

Election arena: Interview with Amos Yadlin

Election arena: Interview with Amos Yadlin

Israel should work with both Democrats and Republicans to prevent a bad deal from being reached on Iran’s nuclear program, the Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.

Yadlin, a former Military Intelligence chief who served in a variety of senior military roles during his 40 years in the IDF, said that the parameters of the deal under discussion between US and Iranian officials are not yet clear.

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“There was an Israeli military option on the table which the West took very seriously. Then sanctions were imposed on Iran.” These factors led the Iranians to the negotiation table in 2012, Yadlin added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “wants all of the Iranian nuclear capabilities to be dismantled to zero. The rest of the world thinks that this is not realistic. The question is whether there is a deal that rolls back Iran by two to three years from the bomb, or will it keep Iran so close to the bomb that it will not be effective in case Iran breaks through,” Yadlin explained.

“The prime minister is now talking again about zero [Iranian enrichment] capabilities. This is unrealistic. The policy that I recommend is to speak to the US administration and to the US Congress, to Republicans and Democrats, to make sure the deal will be acceptable and not a bad deal. My concern is that the administration will reach bad deal, and will define it as acceptable. In this case, the Zionist Camp [Union] will say: This is unacceptable.”

Yadlin criticized Netanyahu’s plan to address the US Congress next week as unhelpful, saying, “In a way, it was counterproductive. There was a bipartisan coalition in Congress that was about to impose new sanctions, pending a bad deal, or no deal. And in a way, the prime minister broke this coalition and the Democrats left it, because it [his speech] was not coordinated with the administration. By speeches, you are not stopping the Iranian nuclear program that should be stopped.”

Yadlin – who as a fighter pilot took part in Israel’s 1981 air strike on the Osirak nuclear site in Iraq, an attack that permanently destroyed Iraq’s nuclear program, and who, according to foreign reports, played the key role as Military Intelligence chief in a reported 2007 strike on Syria’s nuclear site, attributed by foreign media reports to Israel – was asked whether an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program remained realistic in a post-deal scenario.

“If there is one subject that I am not discussing in the open, in TV studios, it is the details of an Israeli or an American military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. I do say 3 words: It is doable,” he said.

Yadlin noted concern in Israel and some quarters in the US over the Obama administration’s apparent decision to “shift alliances,” moving away from traditional alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, and toward Iran as a source of Middle East stability.

He described such a shift as “a big mistake. Iran is a source of instability, terror, regime change, and Islamic revolution all over the Middle East. We have to cope with Iran on both channels [its nuclear program and its regional proxy terrorism networks].”

Turning his attention to the Palestinian Authority, Yadlin said its strategy is to engage in a soft war against Israel, calling the Palestinian moves against Jerusalem “a diplomatic intifada.”

“Israel should fight because it’s a war – a different kind of war,” he said. Israel would most effectively deal with this challenge by differentiating “between arguments that easily can be moved aside because they are anti-Semitic, not right historically, or not based on fact,” and those that target wrong policies by Israel.

“In a way, the Netanyahu government gave this diplomatic attack some ammunition, by the settlement policy and some declarations that helped the Palestinians to fight. If we want to win this war, we have to change some of the Israeli policy, and for every move that goes against the agreement between Israel and the PA, we have to react,” he said.

Yadlin said Israel’s 50-day conflict with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza last summer resulted in a “strategic asymmetric tie.” While the Iron Dome air defense system and the IDF’s actions neutralized Hamas rockets and tunnels, the fact that “at the end of the day, the government was unable to deal with the rearmament of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza is a failure.”

He added that Israel should have sought Hamas’s destruction, or severely weakened it during combat. Instead, “the government wanted to keep Hamas as an address, which I thought was a mistake.”

Hezbollah’s recent deadly missile strike from Lebanon, which killed two IDF soldiers, is a “warning light” that Israel’s deterrence against the Shi’ite terror organization is weakening, Yadlin cautioned.

“My expectation from the government is to reestablish deterrence.”

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