Arad: Cooperation with US on Iran a high priority for Israel

Arad Cooperation with U

Israel's National Security Council is cooperating with the American National Security Agency on the subject of Iranian nuclearization, authority head Uzi Arad told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during a lengthy Monday morning hearing. Arad added that Israel was making efforts - some coordinated with the Americans - to speed up the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. He expressed hope that the current situation with the Palestinians would not continue for long and that the "subject will move" in the coming weeks. Israel has a clear interest in working in complete cooperation with the Americans, he said, adding that cooperation with US President Barack Obama was of the highest importance. Regarding talk of overtures toward Damascus, Arad said Israel was ready to renew talks with Syria without preconditions. However, he also answered critics, stressing that the emphasis was currently on the Palestinian process and that dealing too much with the Syrian topic could be interpreted as an attempt to evade the Palestinian negotiations. The Knesset committee was also briefed about the organization's work to modify itself according to the Malal Law, which was legislated in August 2008. Arad emphasized that in accordance with the law, the organization should serve as a staff body that advised the prime minister in matters of national security, drew its authority from the government and acted according to the prime minister's directives. The organization, said Arad, coordinates among the other organizations that deal with national security, and prepares the background information for both the government and for the security cabinet. Arad said that adopting the new legislation had successfully eliminated the problem of redundancies that had previously existed within the Prime Minister's Office, which had led to tensions among the various security-related organizations. Arad added, though, that "we still have yet to reach full actualization of the law." Arad plans to submit his first annual assessment of the diplomatic-security situation to the government this coming February. The report is required by law and will serve as an additional opinion alongside the IDF's annual intelligence report. In his briefing, Arad emphasized that his organization did not focus merely on security threats, but also on the impact of trends on the diplomatic scene, such as the Goldstone Report.