Last week a historic deal was struck between world powers over Iran’s nuclear program. The deal has been praised by many but also has its fair share of detractors. And one of the most vocal opponents to the deal was Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu who called the deal a “historic mistake.”
But while Israel’s prime minister continues to fight the deal a collection of former Israeli security figures have come forward to say that things could be much worse.
“No agreement is ironclad, but the inspections provisions provide a high degree of confidence that Iran will not be able to renew the nuclear program without its being detected,” Chuck Freilich, a former deputy National Security Adviser in Israel, wrote in a New York Times op-ed published on Sunday and entitled A Good Deal for Israel. “A regime that has staked so much on this agreement will be reluctant to incur the costs.”
Major-General (res.) Israel Ziv is the former head of the Israeli Army’s Operations Directorate branch and he took a realist’s approach to the deal. “There is no one in Israel who thinks the nuclear agreement is a good agreement, but the discussion should not focus on that,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Israeli news site Ynetnews.com. “Because this agreement is the best among all other alternatives, and any military strike – as successful as it may be – would not have delayed even 20% of what the agreement will delay, not to mention the risk of another flare-up with Hezbollah, which an operation against Iran would have generated. The agreement is an established fact, and it’s not particularly bad as far as Israel is concerned.”
Shlomo Brom a Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Brigadier General in the Israeli Army told ThinkProgress last week that while there were flaws in the deal, it was “solved in a good way.”
Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel’s internal security outfit called Shin Bet and former chief of the Israeli Navy, told The Daily Beast that the issue “is not black and white.”
“[W]hen it comes to Iran’s nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option,” Ayalon said. He also named a number of other former ministers, security officers in Shin Bet, and Mossad (Israel’s equivalent to the CIA) who agreed with this view.
Despite the security sector’s views, Netanyahu is still lobbying congress to reject the deal. Congress was given 60 days to vote against the deal, though President Obama said he’d veto any attempt to reject the deal.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited Netanyahu yesterday and met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman today. “Netanyahu expressed his ‘clear and blunt views’ in discussions lasting more than an hour,” the Washington Post reported a senior U.S. defense official as saying. Salman on the other hand reportedly welcomed the Iran deal – though he did so cautiously.
Carter’s trip was aimed at bolstering U.S.-Israeli cooperation and reaffirming American support for Israeli’s security concerns. The talks in Saudi were similar, with CNN reporting that Carter would talk to Salman about cyber cooperation, maritime security, missile defense, and countering ISIS (also known as ISIL or the Islamic State).
“The [Israeli] prime minister made it quite clear he disagrees with us with respect to the nuclear deal,” Carter told coalition troops fighting ISIS at a base in Jordan on Wednesday, according to CNN. “But friends can disagree.”