What could Israel gain?

The alternative to Bibism


What could Israel gain?
by Trita Parsi

In the last few months, Israel’s security and strategic options have changed dramatically. Against the backdrop of the Arab uprisings, Netanyahu’s campaign to force Obama’s hand on Iran has failed. Obama made it clear in March that he would not go to war with Iran over uranium enrichment, as Bibi had requested. 

Instead, he would reinvest in diplomacy and opt for a solution based on limiting and inspecting—not eliminating—Iran’s enrichment program. And if diplomacy succeeds, Obama won’t go to war with Iran at all. Rather, a reduction of US-Iran tensions will follow, which may have significant repercussions throughout the region.

As a stalwart opponent of US-Iran diplomacy, Netanyahu is putting Israel on the opposite side of the US. Israel must now make a choice: Either continue to obstruct Obama’s diplomatic strategy and risk greater tensions with Israel’s most important ally, or shift gears and opt to influence the talks instead.

(I have for years argued that this situation was all but inevitable and that Israel would benefit from making this shift sooner rather than later).

Israel faced a similar situation in 1992. The Cold War had ended and the US had ejected Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. It was the height of the unipolar moment—but Israel’s role in this new world was unclear. Washington had gravitated towards the Arab side after the Persian Gulf War and pressured Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians. The Yitzhak Shamir government had a series of clashes with the George Bush Sr. White House; over the Kuwait war, the Madrid conference and the Palestinians, as well as over US arm sales to Saudi Arabia. America was at the height of its power—but US-Israeli relations were at an all time low.

It was clear Israel needed to shift. The opportunity came with the 1992 elections and the Labor party’s landslide victory. For the first time, Labor could govern without having the Likud in its collation government. With this new political maneuverability, the Labor party could make radical changes to Israel’s strategic orientation—such as opting for a peace process with the Palestinians based on a land for peace formula.

Today, however, the Israeli government under Netanyahu neither enjoys the political nor the ideological flexibility to muster a shift.

While the current Israeli narrative on Iran—the idea that Tehran is an existential threat due to its irrational and suicidal religious leadership—was initiated by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in the early 1990s, and while Netanyahu actually resisted this narrative for a several months when he first came to power in 1996, no other Israeli leader has championed it quite as he has. Today, he personifies the argument that “it’s 1938 and Iran is Germany.” Consequently, he can’t walk back that argument.

Bibi has painted himself in a corner. And as long as Bibi is prime minister, Israel will be stuck there with him.

To save Israel and pave the way for the necessary strategic shifts, Bibi must be let go. Or at least so the elders of Israel’s security establishment seem to think. So they will keep gunning for him.

But what could Israel gain if it shifted?

Any attempt in the short run to link the nuclear issue to the broader Israeli-Iranian rivalry will likely be rejected by the US and Iran. On the eve of a potential breakthrough in the nuclear impasse, such a move would be viewed as a sabotage attempt.

Once the diplomatic track grows more robust, however, the agenda will likely grow. Other issues may be included, whether in the P5+1 setting or in the prospective US-Iran bilateral channel. These can range from regional security issues such as Afghanistan and Syria, to human rights and drug control.

At this stage, there may be receptivity to address the Israeli-Iranian rivalry, with the aim of taming and controlling it, rather than resolving it. The immediate variables range from lowering the rhetoric to reducing tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border to establishing de-escalatory mechanisms.

There are historical precedents for this. During the reign of President Mohammad Khatami, Iran shifted its position on Israel from rejecting the Jewish state to accepting whatever solution the Palestinians would agree to. Iran’s rhetorical posture towards Israel changed in both volume and substance. Rather than questioning Israel’s right to exist, Tehran’s criticism focused on the situation of the Palestinians.

And when Ehud Barak began the Camp David II talks, Tehran remained silent. This was in sharp contrast top its posture in 1994-96, where it positioned itself as the key opponent to Oslo and actively instigated violence and terror.

For Israel, this will likely not suffice. Israel will likely seek de facto Iranian acceptance of the Jewish state. The Iranians will push back and demand disarmament of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Neither objective is achievable in the short run. But starting a process in which the two sides will have to address each other is in and of itself a significant step forward. It’s a path that carries many risks, but also benefits for Israel—particularly mindful of the likely alternative.

First published in the Daily Beast.

Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and the 2010 Recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. His book Treacherous Alliance deals with the Israeli-Iranian rivalry in detail.


Recently by Trita ParsiCommentsDate
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more from Trita Parsi


by masoudA on

Don't you feel less than significant coming here posting a cheer?  Why don't you tell us exactly what part of what TP says you agree with and find well thought of...otherwise you'd appear as just another one of omat hazer dar sahneh.....!!  The difference is here - one needs logic.....and an ability to be more than just a cheeleader.   You make TP look bad as well, if that it is even possible.


mr ahamdinejad's mamoor. you are right again.

by mousa67 on

you are darn entertaining. even more entertaining than your cousine trita parsi and your swimming instructur mr ahmadinejad :)

& i cant afford visiting you in your expensive house in the west. so it is not me you have to worry about paying you a visit my feisty tiger of a cyber warrier :)


Mullahs lobby in U.S

by Siavash300 on

NiAC claims to be representative of Iranians in U.S, but I have never read anything about Iranians by NIAC. Iranians are fighting against stinky ruling rag heads in Iran. NIAC never write anything in that regard. Or about prisoner of conscious in Evin or other prisons. Or human and women right violation in Iran.  All they talk is about Israel and what president of Israel might think of lizard eater arabs. Has arab's problem anything to do with Iranians?


Iran Talks Won’t Halt Oil

by vildemose on

Iran Talks Won’t Halt Oil Sanctions, Societe Generale Says

Negotiations to halt Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program will probably fail, setting the stage for full implementation of U.S. and European Union sanctions against the nation’s oil exports, Societe Generale SA (GLE) said.

A release of strategic oil stockpiles will probably happen in June before the next wave of measures, Michael Wittner, global head of oil market research at the bank, said in a note dated yesterday. About 60 million barrels may be sent out with only a “brief, temporary” lowering of prices, according to the report...


 A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Like always, Another well

by Khebedin on

Like always, Another well thought, well wrtten article on Iran by Mr T. Parsi. Who is hated by Sadam's boys, the MEK members.


piping our hearts Mr Mousa

by مآمور on

My comments are making big differences!! in your life!!

they r making u entertained and getting u motivated to come here and spend some of your time, which would otherwise be spent at watching oral internet sites,here to answer me!!

they touch on your patriotism and make u defend what u believe it is yours!!

perhaps, that is why u like me so much!!

By the way, how do u know my 'resident' is pink?? from time to time u surprise me!!

I wear an Omega watch


یکه یکه!!


 وضع سه نیست! اگر یک نه! دو حتمأ هست

I wear an Omega watch


جمهوری اسلامی


جمهوری اسلامی با اقتدار جام زهر را تا قطره آخر سر کشید و قدم به قدم به دامی افتاد که غربی‌ها برایش تدارک دیده بودند. این یک پازلی بود که هر چه جلوتر میرویم دست و پای جمهوری اسلامی بسته‌تر میشود و نظارت سازمان‌های بین المللی شدیدتر. و عملا امکان دستیابی جمهوری اسلامی به بمب اتمی از این حکومت گرفته خواهد شد. حالا اسم این را میخواهند اقتدار بگذارند و یا هر چیز دیگر مهم نیست. مهم این است که جمهوری اسلامی افتاده است توی مسیر یکطرفه‌ای که امکان بازگشت ندارد. البته سوابق این حکومت نشان میدهد که جر زنی یک عادت همیشگی این حکومت بوده ولی غربی‌ها الان هوشیارتر از قبل هستند و امکان جرزنی را نیز از این رژیم دارند میگیرند

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Israeli and Iranians are fine with one another

by Thought on

The issue is politics and it will only be resolved if one side feels militaristically superior to the other. The extent of damage based population morale is the key for negotiations and results. Thought agrees that only in Baghdad we would witness which side shares the strategic equality or superiority.

Thought believes that natural forces of power always trump little pimples who promote views that are shared with small portion of a larger body. Bibi naturally will be cornered and remain nonfactor in the future of Israel. Iranian fundamentalists similarly can't direct the natural political road.

Thought concludes that if negotiation fails is directly related to military imbalance. For Iranian money exchange facilities Thought suggests to sell fifty percent of their dollars back to Rial for a sudden gain. A gamble worth taking if Baghdad meeting goes well.

Dr. Mohandes

Truth And Research??

by Dr. Mohandes on

Our resident I-love-what-yasser-arafat did to palestinians and hence the world, seems to be the living proof of what he describes as the return of "symptoms of agression". But we pretty much knew that already, didn't we? what is particularly troubling is that he is venturing into  areas he probably shouldn't, By saying such things as "it is true" but it needs more research!

That is what i have always said, DUDES, don't type while your BP is shooting up.


iraj khan

"the patient's

by iraj khan on

symptoms of aggression against "Goyems, the Others" comes back forcefully with the mentioning of words such as:

Israel, Netanyahu, muslims, Iran, Trita Parsi, NIAC

Palestine, settlements, Zionism, Racism, etc.

the above observations is true about 'Bomb Iran' crowd also,

More research is needed.

From the notes of the real Sigmund Freud.


mr ahmadineejad's mamoor: are you mr parsi's cousin?

by mousa67 on

and as far as your wish for  "liberating palestine"  is concerned i doubt your cute daily comments on iranian.com  from your fluffy pink decorated residence in the kafir west would make an iota of a difference my dear feisty ahmadinejad's special agent :)


مآمور, بجنب بابا



تو هنوز در فکر هدفمند کردن یارانه ها هستی؟

بجنب بابا برو تو صف بنزین که وضع بد جوری سه شده! 


every thing original

by مآمور on

My dear friend, u mentioning of names and your preference of the original names has reminded me of the occupied land's name  'Palestine'

Yes, the day racist government of Israel has changed by a democratically elected administration by all people who live in that land, on that day Iran and Palestine can become friends!!

I wear an Omega watch


after the regime change in tehran mr parsi will change his tune

by mousa67 on

and sing in praise of mr natanyaho and new pro west pro israel iranian regime.   he might even propose in a blog on iranian.com (also under new management)  changing the name of azadi square to natanyaho square. although i prefer the original name. shahyad. 

Arash Kamangir

The only one who needs to " shift " is IR

by Arash Kamangir on

Nethanyahoo has managed to  " shift " USA and IR to sit on the table and he has repeatedly said that in case of no agreement Israel would attack iran. I Think political analizer like you need to understand and should not forget that Israel has already had a holocaust behind him and not to prepare to get another one from mullahs. There will not be a compromise over the security of Israel.

Darius Kadivar

Trita Parsi on Twitter Relishes at Sarkozy's eventual defeat

by Darius Kadivar on


Trita Parsi @tparsi


Sending my love to Sarkozy :) What difference his loss can make for the #Iran talks 


نوشتن کتاب در


نوشتن کتاب در مورد یک شخص باعث  آشنای بیشتر مردم با آن شخص می شود! خوب و بد آن هم زیاد مهم نیست معروفیت مهم تر است!!
در غیاب سعیدی سیرجانی که مطمنأ می توانست قصه عشق بین پارسی و اسلامی را بطور شیوايی بیان کند!
فرامز جان تو دست به کار شو ولی بدان کاری است بس بزرگ!!!

I wear an Omega watch

Dr. Mohandes

Next project?!

by Dr. Mohandes on

Faramarz you have got this individual figured out so effectively, inside and out, and i think it would be only appropriate if you did a book on him:))

Man, imagine all the knocks you will getting on your door, by the army of please-sell-me-gas-at-less than-8 $- a gallon:))))


The purpose of NIAC is to facilitate business w/ the mullahs

by AMIR1973 on

Unfortunately for the NIACi thugs, that train has left the station.


Please watch "Iranians we love you" in "zigi391" youtube channel

by ahosseini on

Believe in a democracy that leaders and representatives are controlled by members at all times.


No Relevance to Iranian-American Community

by Faramarz on


As usual Trita's "analysis" has nothing to do with the Iranian-American community. There is no mention of the Regime, the human rights violations in Iran or anything of significance.

Let's put it this way. A blind human rights activist in China escapes his captors and seeks refuge at the US embassy and the whole world learns about it immediately. A human rights activist in Iran and a mother of two lovely 2-year olds gets sentenced to years in prison and the "Iranian-American Community Advocate" is completely silent.

OK, OK, NIAC does mention human rights in Iran on their website, somewhere between the ""Help Wanted" section and the "Obituaries!"


Good analysis and predictions as before...

by Bavafa on


'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 



BiBi loves Iran and Iran loves BiBi! You can bet your bottom $!


BiBi wants to get rid of IRR which has stuck its claws into the bleeding body of Iran. Annihilation of IRR by any means and at any cost including a military strike!

Yaa Mosa! Praise lord Moses!

Dr. Love, Ph.D., M.D., J.D., Member of BiBi Loves Iran Association.


What did Germans gain?

by Demo on

Not having ever had any interest to read any of TP's writings, cosidering him a narrow minded 'foo-fool' with a broad tongue, just the posted BiBi's portray itself preplexed this commentator with the astonishing similiarities of him with Adolphi below:


May GOD saves us all from these so called lobbies' & BiBi's mischiefs the same!

iraj khan

Who is BiBi

by iraj khan on

but the leader of Rapist, Racist Criminal regime of Israel where more than 2000 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike as we speak.

Netanyahu simply has to go.


Dear Fred

by masoudA on

The funniest part of this TP character, I find to be....As the so called president of the Iranian/Americans, he is never present in any Iranian American gathering....well unless set-up by NIAC and amongst a very limited number of his likes.   I think a good start for him would be to open a blog right here on IC and engage with us......instead of his usual hit & run propaganda.....Fred do you think he has the cohanas to ever do anything like that?   Hail to the lifetime prez...

Iraj Khan - nothing says to IC members that TP lobbies for IR, more than seeing YOU support him!!  

iraj khan

Speaking of

by iraj khan on


Wasn't it the last president of Israel who was convicted of Raping four women employees of his?

Is he serving time? Or is he running free with the previous Israeli prime minister who was charged with birbery?

How about the Israeli foreign minister, Liberman? Has he been charged with extortion and working with Russian Mafia yet?


NIAC Lobby

by Fred on

Although many questions remain about the lifetime president of NIAC Lobby’s court documented relationship with the Islamist Rapist Republic (IRR) high officials, which the lifetime president refuses to answer, but as far as this write up goes,

What do the people of Iran get from the Islamist Rapist Republic (IRR) becoming a nuke-ready state?

Why would the sane world accept a proven terrorist regime to achieve such status?


When are the NIAC Lobby and its lifetime president going to blame Islamist Rapists for their illegal nuke activity and international terrorism?