May 21, 2008

Avner: For Israel, Military Option Still on the Table


Washington DC – On Tuesday, May 21 NIAC held its monthly congressional briefing which covered the interlacing relationship between the United States, Israel, and Iran. The briefing included an opening statement by Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers (MI-D), during which he emphasized the importance of avoiding a third war with a Muslim State, adding that another war would have constitutional implications.

The event, well attended by both house and senate staffers as well as Members of Congress, featured two guest speakers: Tom Dine, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Dr. Avner Cohen, an expert on Israel’s nuclear policy and senior fellow at the United States Institute for Peace.

Both Dine and Cohen agreed that negations with Iran were necessary. However, though Cohen agreed that the US should talk to Iran, he strongly advised against talking to current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Avner argued that Tehran has been guilty of stepping across every red line in the nuclear presented before them by the international community and Israel. He also referenced the danger of a nuclear Iran, saying that one bomb over Tel Aviv would destroy the Jewish state. Though Avner stated that diplomacy is preferable to military action, he pointed out that the period between November and January will be “very sensitive,” especially if Senator Barack Obama, who Israel considers weak on Iran, is elected.

Recognizing that it is unlikely that Iran will be stripped of all enrichment knowledge and activity, Avner hinted that a possible compromise would be possible if a mechanism could be created that would provide Israel with “advanced notice” of any diversion of Iran’s program towards military means.

Dine emphasized that war is not desirable and that diplomacy must be utilized. At one point, he turned towards Congressmen Conyers and suggested that an incident at sea agreement between Iran and the US was desirable in order to avoid elevated tensions that can arise in the Persian. He also pointed out that such a limited diplomatic activity could also snowball into something much more significant.

The briefing was open to Congressional Representatives and Staffers, as well as higher level NIAC members.




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