The Israel Factor: Increased chance of 'force' on Iran

While our panelists have displayed skepticism over the use of US force on Iran, they have collectively decided that it is more likely now than before.

November 15, 2010 15:53
3 minute read.
FILE -- In a Feb. 11, 2008 file photo Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks during a rally t

Ahmadinejad 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

That our panel predicted the US will keep pushing for settlement freeze barely surprises anyone. What is more interesting is the fact that The Israel Factor team of experts didn’t find possible US recognition of Palestinian statehood to be a far-fetched scenario. In fact, all those panelists answering this question (7 out of 8) ranked it from possible (3) to likely (4). Only one panelist thought such recognition was very unlikely (1).

The deal between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama extending the freeze for three more months, reportedly includes an understanding that the US will not move in that specific direction – leading one to suspect that the Israeli PM had also concluded that US decision to recognize a Palestinian State might be in the cards. However, our panel also predicted with much confidence that the US will keep blocking Security Council resolutions critical of Israel (5 out of 7 answering this question tended to believe this is the more likely scenario) – leading one to suspect that in this case the US might have sold Netanyahu a car he already owns (the freeze deal reportedly also includes an American commitment regarding UN votes).

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Related Articles:
Israel Factor: The Statistics
Israel Factor: The Questionnaire

This is our third analysis of The Israel Factor November 2010 survey. Our first article was about Israel and the outcome of the 2010 election. Our second analysis started surveying Israeli views of possible 2012 candidates for the presidency (Will Giuliani run again? That’s hard to believe). This third analysis takes a look at the questions that aren’t quite “political” in nature but rather deal with the tactical and the strategic choices the US will be making in the coming months and years.

And while this week most of those dealing with Israel-US relations mostly look at the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the maneuvering of the governments towards agreement on settlement freeze and continued talks – last week was still very much about Iran. Netanyahu, visiting the US, was saying that more credible military threat is the way to convince Iran to halt its nuclear weapon program – while the US Defense Secretary explained that "I disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions that it needs to, to end its nuclear weapons program. We are prepared to do what is necessary, but, at this point, we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is, in fact, having an impact on Iran."

The panel, as you can see, is quite skeptical about the prospects for American use of force. On the other hand, it is even more skeptical when asked whether the US will “find a way to convince Iran” to halt its nuclear program. But here is an interesting nugget: In January of 2009 we asked the panel similar questions. And yes, it wasn’t the exact same panel – we have one new member, and one that was on the team had left. But it is similar enough. And look how much more skeptical the panel was a year ago. In fact, on the question regarding US ability to “convince” Iran, there has been a change for the worse (from 2.5 to 2.1). But on the question of “force” there’s the opposite change – that I thought was somewhat surprising. The panel, while still skeptical (2.28) – seems much more ready today to believe that the Obama administration will consider the use of force than it was a year and a half ago (1.87).

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