The setting of a red line — a boundary beyond which Iran may not cross in implementing a nuclear program — has become a bone of contention between the United States and Israel.
After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advised a Bloomberg reporter that the United States wouldn’t be setting any deadlines with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back, “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel. … I think Iran must understand that there’s a red line so they stop advancing on their program to produce atomic bombs.”
In addition, President Barack Obama indicated last week that he would not have time to meet with the Israeli prime minister when Netanyahu visits the United States later this month.
In light of the above, former State Department official Aaron David Miller observed, “I’ve watched this relationship between Israeli prime ministers and American presidents for a long time. I have to say, this is probably the most dysfunctional pair that I’ve seen.”
The Israeli prime minister told the Israel Hayom newsletter in an interview published Sunday that the Iranian red line issue revolves “not on a question of dates, but rather on a question of process.”
He went on to say that the task of protecting the Israeli home front becomes a near impossibility once Iran obtains nuclear weaponry.
“You can protect the country from missiles, in one way or another,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. “But there is no protection against atomic bombs. The only way to protect against this is to prevent the creation of such a reality by the enemy, and of course, make it clear to anyone who would ever consider attacking Israel with weapons of mass destruction – do it at your own peril.”
Netanyahu has taken a lot of heat lately from both his country and ours for his candid remarks on the Iranian situation.
“Netanyahu’s sharp comments about Iran – even if they are not pleasant and seem direct – are necessary to create international pressure against Iran’s nuclear program,” a source close to the prime minister said (cite the publication) on Thursday. “The prime minister is prepared to take the criticism. Experience shows that if Netanyahu would not have dared voice sharp remarks on Iran in public from time to time, there would not be this unprecedented international pressure on the Iranians.”
The source concluded that Netanyahu “will continue to demand in a clear voice that the international community set this red line” as it “is a vital interest to the State of Israel.”
As the fires in the Middle East continue to burn, it’s time to consider the advice of our closest ally in that region, Israel, and that nation’s leader. Not acting may leave us with no ally there at all.
Bibi on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sept. 16: Those who say a nuclear Iran would stabilize the Middle East “set a new standard for human stupidity.”
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