TEL AVIV — US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Martin Indyk and former US diplomat Dennis Ross offered creative ways to reconcile the differences between Israel and the US over Iran nuclear talks at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Indyk, who played a key role in the last round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, suggested a joint Israel-US nuclear defense pact as a way to assuage Israeli fears.
Proposing "a nuclear guarantee for Israel" that would address Israeli apprehension of Iran crossing becoming a "nuclear threshold," he spoke of a prior plan previously discussed at Camp David in 2000 between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the late Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat.
"It was approved then, and the US president [Bill Clinton] said if there is a deal, we'll do this," Indyk said.
Although the deal was supposed to apply to an agreement with the Palestinians and would need to be altered to fit Iranian negotiations, it "may go a considerable distance toward calming Israel's concerns about the Iranians reneging on commitments it makes in this deal."
According to Indyk, the pact would be "a treaty arrangement that would require legislation, and I'm sure it would pass pretty much unanimously."
Former Ambassador Dennis Ross, who currently serves as counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, also offered solutions to bridging the gaps between the Israel and the US.
Ross argued that transparent "anytime, anywhere" inspections on Iranian facilities must be put in place, and different, more stringent protocols based on the number of operating centrifuges Iran possesses must be applied.
"You have to ensure that you can verify that a program that has a thousand or two centrifuges is dramatically less than what is required if you have tens of thousands and you'd have to come up with an approach that allows you a high level of confidence that you can cover that," he said.
Additionally, clear, pre-determined consequences must be established for specific Iranian violations.
"There should be use of force worked out with the Hill that says, if we catch them in the following kind of violation, the implication is we will take out those facilities. That would deter the Iranians, that would go a long way toward addressing one of the basic Israeli concerns," he argued.
Retired Israeli Brig. adier Gen.eral Yosef Kuperwasser disagreed with — unimpressed by Ross's suggestions, replying — replied that, as far as Israel is concerned, Iran cannot be trusted to comply with those parameters.
"They would not believe that [the Americans] really mean business and it would mean that they would continue to move forward cautiously, but continuously," he warned.
Dismissing the loud voices that claim the differences on Iran represent is a personal matter between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kupperwasser insisted that the difference of opinion is purely based on varying assessments of the Iranian threat.
The Obama administration, he explained, is interested in avoiding military conflict at all costs, while Israel is gravely concerned that Iran posses and immediate and existential threat to Israel. The United States, also, sees Iran as the lesser of two evils and a potential force in the fight against radical Sunni Shi'ite extremism Shi'ite or Sunni? /kc in the Middle East, he added.
"The combination of denying [the Iranians] the capability to move forward, together with political isolation and economic sanctions and a credible military option, all of that should force the Iranians to give up this problem," he said.
Kupperwasser advocated that the Israeli public should take matters into their own hands by protesting in front of the American embassy and the "experts in the room" should pen letters to Obama explaining that the Israeli public is gravely concerned about Iranian nuclear ambitions.
Opening a subsequent panel on US-Israeli relations, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro tired to downplay cacophony of voices decrying the broken relationship between Israel and the US over the Iranian file.
"The United States is determined to prevent [a nuclear Iran], and we will prevent it. Our cooperation and consultations with Israel on this shared goal will continue, even at moments when we may disagree with one or another aspect of the approach," he said.
On Monday night, while acknowledging that he will not allow for Iran to realize its "genocidal aims" against Israel, Netanyahu also clarified that he — contrary to critical opinion — is not against the negotiations themselves.
"I'm not opposed to any deal with Iran, I'm opposed to a bad deal with Iran," he clarified at a speech in Jerusalem.