Israel’s inherent right to take part in the negotiations with Iran

Iran keeps making existential threats against Israel, while simultaneously equipping itself with long-range missiles.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (photo credit: REUTERS)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A basic norm which has been adopted into our social economic and legal systems is that if someone’s basic and essential rights and interests are at stake – it is his inherent right to participate in all proceedings which are likely to affect these interests, be they legal, economical or even moral.
Iran keeps making existential threats against Israel, while simultaneously equipping itself with long-range missiles and producing materials which could potentially be used to manufacture nuclear warheads to be delivered by those missiles. Therefore, Israel finds itself in a position where its leaders, across the political spectrum, believe that these threats deserve an appropriate response. As to possible responses, it has been the policy of the State of Israel since its establishment in 1948 to take care of its own of protection, without any need for military intervention by any of its allies.
Currently, leading nations including the US are conducting intensive negotiations with Iran regarding the development by this country of weapons for mass destruction. The former and current Israeli administrations found fit not to insist on direct participation in these negotiations, as well as in other measures taken in this regard, but rather to count on world leaders to take care of the Iranian problem. The reason given for this avoidance was that Iran constituted a serious threat not solely to Israel, but to most of the civilized world, particularly in light of the fundamental nature of the Islamic regime in Iran and its activities and threats to date.
This reasoning, however, has become more and more doubtful, as Israel feels increasingly insecure regarding the path of the negotiations, and the alleged achievements of the diplomatic process at this stage. In light of all this, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to speak before the US Congress to express his position regarding the Iranian threat to Israel and the world.
The flaw in the thinking behind this planned address is the premise that others can be allowed to determine the future of Israel. Netanyahu has a problem with the US administration in regard to this issue, at least to some extent, so he is turning to the US Congress to effect the change he seeks in the direction of the negotiations. Yet even if he succeeds, it will still be others making existential decisions regarding Israel’s future. Only instead of the administration, it will be the US Congress.
The solution seems clear: Israel should be integrated into the negotiation process with Iran. This does not mean that it will have the power to veto decisions taken by others. Various nations, the US chief among them, have their own interests which do not necessarily coincide with those of Israel. Yet Israel’s strong involvement in the negotiations will be powerful in easing the insecurity which its population feels at present, and which brings its leaders to conflict with each other and with the US administration. Such participation will make the need for a speech before Congress obsolete. Further, Israeli participation in the negotiations will offer a greater opportunity to convince world leaders of the Iranian threat to the entire world.
Obviously, the Iranians will not see eye to eye with the rest of the world regarding Israel’s participation in the negotiations. But this may be a litmus test for the Iranians: if you are serious in your attempts to become part of the civilized world, a step which is of course required for a positive result in these negotiations, you cannot boycott the Israelis. If you refuse even to sit with them, what better proof is required of your bad will and your desire to endanger their existence? Another question is the stage which the negotiations have already reached. Israel has chosen not to participate so far, therefore, its participation logically need not obstruct understandings already reached. But regarding future stages of the negotiations, Israel’s participation appears to be the obvious required solution, let alone its inherent right to take part in proceedings the results of which are likely to significantly impact its future.
The cooperation between US and the Israeli administrations has the potential to reach a new peak as a result of the insistence from both sides on Israel’s participation in the negotiations.
The author is former Attorney General of the World Zionist Organization, son of Gideon Hausner, the prosecutor of Nazi criminal Adolph Eichmann, and board member of Massuah, international institute for Holocaust studies.