Israel's necessary doubt over Obama's UN negotiations

September 24, 2013

Contrary to what is widely assumed, Israel would like nothing more than a diplomatic solution to the Middle East’s biggest problems.

Israeli scepticism that Barack Obama can succeed in forcing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to back down over his country’s nuclear programme at the UN this week, or that Bashar al Assad might hand over Syria’s chemical weapons, is not built on a desire for military confrontation.

Since Israel would be a primary target in any retaliation by either regime, its doubt is merely a signal that it must pay the utmost attention to a life-threatening reality.

Iran continues to develop nuclear-armed missiles that have Israel within range, and Hizbollah is doing its level best to get hold of the chemical weapons that Assad unleashed on a Damascus suburb last month.

Rouhani has undoubtedly improved Iran’s image in Western eyes in recent weeks but, so far, his much-praised acts of “moderation” have been cosmetic. For Israel, a failure to recognise that credibility gap could mean allowing Iran to “smile and build a bomb”, in the words of Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.

This is why Israel must remain the voice of doubt while the world starts to dream.

Last updated: 1:05pm, September 24 2013