“Israel has the opportunity to influence an improved agreement with Iran”

The interview with Shapiro

“President Biden has no illusions at all about the nature of the regime in Iran, but he also comes to the presidency with a reality that needs to be addressed.” This is what he says in an interview with Ynet Dan Shapiro, Former US Ambassador to Israel and currently a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Against the background of estimates that the new US administration is in no hurry to remove the pressure of sanctions on Tehran, while seeking to return to the nuclear agreement with it, the senior diplomat said: “Iran is closer to a nuclear weapons break than it was when the nuclear deal was in place, before Trump left. Iran continues to conduct dangerous operations in Syria that Israel is facing, as well as against American forces in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

“It has not changed in the era of Trump’s sanctions and the US has been much more isolated in the era of Trump’s policies, without any support for his approach except Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, without any support from Europe, certainly from Russia, it is very difficult to succeed. “So Biden is not running to return to the agreement, I think he is showing patience and he is putting pressure on Iran to decide if they are willing to return to their commitment in the agreement.”

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Nimin Netanyahu, Joe Biden and Ali KhameneiNimin Netanyahu, Joe Biden and Ali Khamenei

Prime Minister Netanyahu, US President Biden and Ayatollah Khamenei

(Photo: Amit Shabi, AFP)

Shapiro added: “If Iran is willing to return to its commitment in the agreement, Biden will also be willing to return – but on the condition of mutual compliance from both sides and in any case only the beginning. His strategic goal is to use the first agreement as a basis or basis for negotiating. A much longer, much stronger, much broader agreement that will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and also address other issues: support for terrorism, ballistic missiles, etc. I know there are disagreements between the US and Israel on the first agreement, but on the new agreement Let it be longer, wider, stronger, I think there is a lot in common, both between Israel and the United States and “countries in Europe, the Gulf and others.”

Can Israel influence the negotiations on the nuclear deal with Iran?
“Of course there is an opportunity for Israel to influence the policy, to voice its views. We already know that there is agreement to have closed, professional talks, with the intelligence, with the powers, with the diplomats, on both sides, as was done in 2009-2013 in the Biden administration. Successful to connect the policies of the two countries, to reduce the gaps and to also agree on where to disagree, but how to deal with these disagreements.

“So there is an opportunity and I think the Biden administration is very open to hearing everything that Israel has to present in these talks and thinking about it and considering it, and there will be an impact on the outcome. It does not mean they will agree on everything, but it is a future way of building a common challenge. “That the two sides define the goal together, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons – forever.”

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on a tour of one of the country's nuclear reactors in the framework Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on a tour of one of the country's nuclear reactors in the framework

Iranian President Rouhani visits nuclear reactor

(Photo: AFP)

How do you think Israel can contribute to the challenges facing the United States?
“First of all the normalization process is very important to face all the challenges in the region. When there is a stable and wide camp of partners in the Middle East, who are all also US partners, they can work together, in public and not just under the table, in coordination with common threats, like with Iran , As with jihadist organizations, it can help all of us face the challenges.

“The normalization process can contribute to a positive momentum in the Israeli and Palestinian trajectory, at least keep a two-state option, in the future, not to negotiate in the near future, and it can also help mobilize European support – which is also important for many Democrats in the US.

“Israel and US need to have a very deep conversation about common understandings or laws, how to deal with China”

“Regarding China, Israel and the United States also need to have a very deep conversation about common understandings or laws, how to deal with China. Nobody in the US wants to start a cold war with China, but there should also be understandings, what technology should not be sent to China, what investments should not be received from China, sensitive infrastructure and technologies. So Israel has a part in this, Europe has a part in it, everyone has “A partner of the United States all over the world,” decisions are sometimes difficult to make about how they can stand up to the camp of democracies in the face of all non-democracies in the world, including China. ”

Secretary of State Blink said it was not the time for progress with the Palestinians. What needs to happen for it to be the right time and can it be said that Trump’s “deal of the century” has already passed away?

“Secretary of State Blinken has made it clear several times that the Biden administration’s policy is to support a two-state solution, he did not elaborate, but I understand it is a solution more similar to the efforts of President Clinton and President Bush and President Obama, than defined in Donald Trump’s plan. The Trump program will be so relevant to President Biden’s ambition.

“This is not the time, according to Blinken, to return both sides to direct negotiations, in the meantime, but there are things that can be promoted on the ground – deepening security cooperation, developing the economy and institutions of the Palestinian Authority, preventing negative things, paying terrorists in prison. Legitimization on the part of the Palestinians, expansion of settlements and talk of annexation from the Israeli side, as well as mobilizing other elements in the region, certainly Egypt and Jordan, but also Arab countries that are beginning to normalize with Israel. “Future countries. It could be another year or two years or five years or 10 years, we’ll have to wait until the time is right to try to negotiate a permanent agreement again, this is not the time. But that does not mean there is nothing that can be done.”

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Anthony BlinkenAnthony Blinken

US Secretary of State Blink. “There are other things to promote on the ground”

(Photo: Reuters)

Will the Biden administration be tolerant, for example, of continued construction in the settlements? Are we likely to go back to days of harsh condemnation if we see a tender for construction here and there?

“I do not know exactly what they will say about any scenario, until now the State Department has repeated statements from the campaign that Biden like any previous administration, except the Trump administration, opposes expansion in the settlements because it hurts the possibility of reaching a two-state agreement. It is in the category of ‘unilateral steps’ that both sides should not do in order to keep two states as a possibility for the future. “

Do you think that President Trump’s tenure did good to relations with Israel or did it cause damage, perhaps in that Israel became a one-party issue in the US and not a two-party one?
“So I never try to convince Israeli citizens what they should think about Donald Trump’s policy, and certainly when there are a lot of people who appreciate some things he did, with the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem and others. But what you also mentioned is true, that Trump openly tried to use support for Israel As a political tool to help his personal interests and he called the Democrats an ‘anti-Israel party’, this is ridiculous.

He called the Democrats’ anti-Semites, ‘that’s ridiculous, too. He demanded American Jews’ personal loyalty to him because of his support for Israel. This is not the traditional way to maintain bipartisanship, which is the core and power of relations between the states. There will be republican governments, democratic governments, “At a time when both parties are the majority in Congress, it is very, very important to maintain support for both parties so that there are no significant changes in the foundations of the relationship when there is a change in power, and Trump has done a lot of damage to that principle.”

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Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Crown PrinceMuhammad bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince

Saudi Crown Prince Ben Salman. “The prince is probably looking at the Palestinian cause”

(Photo: Reuters)

What is your assessment of Saudi-Israeli relations?
“I think the Saudis are approaching, say, a decision on normalization, but it is impossible to know how close they are. It is hard to believe that the Emirates and certainly Bahrain would have advanced with normalization without Saudi support, or certainly if there had been Saudi opposition. Prince Muhammad bin Salman is probably looking at the region and The Palestinian interest and possibilities for cooperation with Israel in a different way from his father’s generation that he is still alive and well and he is the king, so maybe he is more prepared than others, but it will take time.

“It also happens at a time when the US and the Biden administration are re-examining relations between the US and Saudi Arabia, because of all the civilians injured and killed in the war in Yemen, because of human rights violations in the US, certainly against women, because of the assassination of Jamal Khushkji. . Then There are things the US needs to look at – how it wants to conduct relations with the Saudis, it could affect the Saudis’ decisions about Israel.

“But I also expect that once the Saudis are really ready to advance a process of normalization with Israel, they will ask Israel for something and I expect it to be about the Palestinians. Freezing the settlements, declaring a commitment to two states, or something else. But I think it’s also a question my Israeli friends will need Ask themselves – what is it worth, to get the recognition that Israel certainly deserves from the Saudis, and what is worth giving them on the Palestinian issue. ”

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Smutrich and Ben Gvir signed an agreement to run together in the electionSmutrich and Ben Gvir signed an agreement to run together in the election

Ben Gvir and Smutrich. “It is very important to take the very sensitive things for Jews in the United States”

What can you say about the damage done to Israel’s relations with the Jewish community in the United States after everything we have been through in recent years, the outline of the Western Wall, the conversion, and now Netanyahu’s connection with Kahana’s successors?
“There is still deep and broad support for the Jewish community in Israel and it is also an asset to Israel. But it is also very worthwhile for Israel to take into account the very sensitive things for Jews in the United States, their Jewish identity, their Jewish tradition, how they express Jewish identity, not To underestimate it, whether it is at the Western Wall, whether it is in conversion, whether it is in the recognition of the marriage of Reform and Conservative rabbis.

“There are ways to show respect for every style of Judaism and I think it is worthwhile, it will strengthen the relationship. I think there is a need for deeper education in the Israeli education system about the Diaspora communities in general and the American community in particular. So there are opportunities to make a reverse ‘discovery’ (Israelis who visit In the US) and education in Israel as well, this is very important, if anyone cares about the relationship between the US and Israel then I highly recommend that he should care about the relationship with the Jewish community in the US.

“You mentioned the Kahanist ideology, I remember a year ago in the previous proposal to bring Kahanists into the Knesset, there was harsh criticism from very, very central organizations, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee. I think this is still a very broad opinion in the Jewish community, which very much values ​​the Israeli identity as both Jewish and democratic and very much wants it to continue. “

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“Maybe Biden will be open to advancing the process again.” Former Ambassador Shapiro

(Photo: Moti Kimhi)

An issue that concerns quite a few Israelis, why does Israel not receive a visa exemption?
“I can not talk about the last four years because I was not in the administration. When I was ambassador, we held a joint committee between the two countries to try to advance the process, to put Israel in the visa waiver program. It did not work, we did not reach the end, there are steps of Both sides that still had to finish.

“I’m not sure what Biden’s policy will be. I know that Trump, despite his friendship with Israel, was not enthusiastic about immigration and bringing foreigners into the United States, so maybe it was not the administration that wanted to promote it. Biden looks at immigration differently, he sees it as an advantage to the US. It is an economic advantage, a social advantage, it recruits good people from all over the world and connects the USA to the whole world. So I think maybe he will be open to trying to advance the process again. There are still things that need to be decided, but there is certainly a possibility. “