Two Former Israeli Officials Back Direct Negotiations Between U.S. And Iran

The list of former Israeli officials in support of direct negotiations between the U.S. and Iran on the nuclear issue continues to grow as Yoel Guzansky, a former Iran adviser for the Israeli Prime Minister, and Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union, in an Israeli newspaper earlier this month endorsed bilateral talks.

In October, the New York Times reported on an agreement “in principle” for negotiations between Iran and the U.S. after the U.S. elections. Both the administration and Iran subsequently denied the agreement’s existence.

Yesterday, Al-Monitor translated Guzansky and Eran’s piece which originally ran on November 15, which highlighted the need for Israel to support a diplomatic approach:

Israel can contribute to the efforts to solve the Iranian issue [via diplomacy] by reaching an understanding with the United States on the time frame for direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran, if indeed the opportunity arises for conducting such direct talks, as well as on the political elements of any agreement reached and on the room for maneuver allowed with respect to any of these constituent elements.”

Amos Yadlin, a former high-level Israeli military official, recently embraced Iran-U.S. talks, writing that it is significant that the Iranians are considering direct negotiations:

“This degree of backpedalling, a complete U-turn from its official policy, is indicative of the effectiveness of the pressure exerted on Iran, and a signal of its capacity to bring about real change in the country’s policy.”

Still others, like Israel’s current Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, have indicated a willingness to back talks, saying earlier this month that there “could be direct negotiations with Iran.” Efraim Halevy, the former director of Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, lent his support to negotiations as well:

“I realized that dialogue with an enemy is essential. There is nothing to lose. Although the claim was, if you talk to them, you legitimize them. But by not talking to them, you don’t de-legitimate them. So this convinced me, that we all have been very superficial in dealing with our enemies. Not everything you try succeeds. But you have to be willing to try.”

The Obama administration has pursued a diplomatic approach to Iran, believing that such a strategy provides “the best and most permanent” route to a solution to the nuclear issue. An attack on Iran, as some former Israeli officials have pointed out, could actually push Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Though the U.S. finds a nuclear armed Iran an unacceptable threat to global security, the opportunity for diplomacy remains as the U.S., Israel, and U.N. have repeatedly stated that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon.