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Negative Pulses from Vienna to Israel: Has the Green Light Been Given on Iran Attack?

By Ali Qaderi, Asriran News Website; translated by Iran Review

Representatives of the European Union's member states at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have called on Iran in their latest statement to totally stop its uranium enrichment program as well as all activities at Fordow nuclear site.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to the IAEA has expressed concern over what he called Iran's noncompliance with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He also called on Iran to take immediate and rapid steps to build confidence with the international community.

On the surface, these news prove that a serious problem has emerged in the course of Iran's recent nuclear talks with the Western powers and the two sides are back when they started. But this is not the entire story. More negative pulses were received from Vienna on the same day that EU representatives issued their statement, which were soon merged with another pulse from Israel early the next morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already announced that early elections for the Israeli parliament, Knesset, were scheduled for September 4. That decision, however, was practically annulled after Kadima Party, which is the biggest opposition party in Israel led by Shaul Mofaz, decided to join Netanyahu's cabinet, thus, paving the way for the official establishment of a national unity government in Israel. The national unity cabinet session was held in Jerusalem (al-Quds).

As a result, Netanyahu will retain his post as Israel's prime minister for another year and a half and Mofaz will replace Moshe Ya'alon as his deputy.

The negative pulses which have been received within two weeks of the upcoming round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany) in Iraq's capital city of Baghdad in addition to the establishment of a national unity government in Israel have raised two important questions:

1. What is the main reason behind establishment of a national unity cabinet in Israel?

2. Does the concurrence between these pulses mean that the White House has given Israel the green light to attack Iran's nuclear facilities?

A review of the track records of various Israeli cabinets in the history of the Zionist regime will show that no single party has ever been able to win majority seats in the Knesset. As a result, Israeli cabinets have been mostly coalition cabinets whose fate has usually ended in early elections for the next government.

There have been many historical instances when a national unity cabinet has been established in Israel and review of those instances will show that they have been formed for two basic reasons.

The first reason has been a state of emergency facing the Israeli regime, such as war or a serious economic crisis.

The second reason for the establishment of a national unity cabinet is when a coalition government has not been able to make basic decisions due to relative share of parties in the parliament and there has been consensus that early elections will destabilize the Israeli regime.

Conditions which have led to the establishment of a national unity government at the present time can be also assessed on the basis of the same two reasons.

A) State of emergency

There is no doubt that the critical conditions in the Middle East and rapid political changes across the region can have serious adverse effects on the national security of the Zionist regime of Israel. From peace talks with the Palestinian Authority to the fate of Iran's nuclear case up to the developments caused by the ongoing Arab Spring, all can have serious effects on the strategic standing of Israel in the region which may greatly change characteristics of the environment in which Israel can interact with other countries.

Tangible changes in the balance of regional power on the east (Iran) and north (Lebanese Hezbollah) of Israel and possibility of future threats from the southern side (Egypt) have put the Israeli regime in an unprecedentedly precarious situation. As a result, taking unilateral decisions under such critical conditions can have dangerous consequences for the future outlook of Israel.

B) Political factor

Although recent polls indicate that in case of a new election, the Likud Party and Netanyahu will win the elections again, even despite that election win he would have to form a coalition government in cooperation with such parties as Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beyteynu Party and other ultra-right parties such as Torah Party. In a best case scenario, such a coalition would have only gained a fragile majority for the government in the Knesset.

The Israeli prime minister is well aware that his government will not be able to make basic decisions by relying on such a fragile majority.

The existing composition of the cabinet is such that it does not allow for making decisions on certain urgent issues as it cannot get the parliament to give the go-ahead on those issues.

The first urgent issue is to make changes to the law which grants exemption from compulsory military service to students of Israel's religious schools (yeshiva). The law is known as Tal Law and will be expired about two months from now.

The second issue is the next year's budget law (Hebrew calendar has only six months), especially the defense budget which is faced with serious challenges. Finally, there is the issue of changing the Israeli regime's parliamentary election law which would be impossible without support from absolute majority of the Knesset.

On the other hand, Netanyahu's government has recently come under scorching fire from political and security elites of Israel including the former prime minister, Ehud Olmert; former head of Israel's internal security and counter-intelligence service (Shin Beth), Yuval Diskin; and former head of Israel's intelligence agency (Mossad), Meir Dagan. They have unanimously accused the incumbent prime minister, Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of inefficiency in running the country's affairs and have blamed them for the widespread psychological chaos which is rife among the Zionist regime's officials.

Establishment of a national unity cabinet provides Netanyahu with a form of political deterrence in the face of increasing domestic criticism against his government. As a result, the Israeli prime minister will be able, in cooperation with Kadima Party and its leader, Shaul Mofaz, to remain immune of such criticism for the rest of one and a half years which remains of his term in office. As a result of the coalition, Netanyahu will also have support of the majority of the Knesset deputies (94 out of 120 representatives).

On the other hand, simultaneity of West's negative pulses on the eve of Iran's negotiations with the P5+1 and establishment of a national unity cabinet in Israel can be analyzed within framework of two more general scenarios.

According to the first scenario, the West has lost hope in reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran and has shown the green light to Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. This is, of course, a remote possibility in view of destructive regional and global consequences of such a war. Meanwhile, as presidential polls in the United States draw close, it is very unlikely that Barak Obama will take such a deadly risk.

On the other hand, any war between Iran and Israel will finally change the course of the Arab Spring, especially in Egypt, in favor of Iran. Therefore, even under the worst existing conditions, the first scenario does not seem very likely to be chosen.

In the second scenario, the United States and its European allies may try to make the most of Israel's decision to establish a national unity cabinet in order to mount psychological pressure on Iran during the forthcoming talks with Tehran. In view of the past positions taken by Kadima Party, which is a moderate party, and its leader Shaul Mofaz, this scenario conforms better to the reality of Iran's nuclear case.

The party has been regularly opposed to aggressive policies adopted by Netanyahu and Barak on Iran's nuclear energy program in recent years. Its leaders have argued that any action on Iran's nuclear program should be taken within framework of Washington's policies and decisions.

On the other hand, establishment of a national unity government was among the first things that Obama proposed to Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni (former leader of Kadima Party) following Israel's elections in 2009. Therefore, it is most unlikely that the proposal will lead to anything which would result in military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
It is to everybody's benefit to keep the war drums silent. Both Iran and the P5+1 hope that the nuclear issue will be solved within diplomatic frameworks and, obviously, diplomatic solutions are mostly about giving and taking score points.

However, when trying to exchange points, let's not forget that negotiations between Iran and the West do not simply focus on uranium enrichment and related issues. There are many open cases which are being discussed in these negotiations in order to be closed to a final end. Some of them, like the situation in Syria and Egypt, need to be completed and require more time for further scrutiny. Therefore, nobody should expect swift agreements between the two sides.

In the world of diplomacy, both frowns and smiles have their own special meanings.

... Payvand News - 05/17/12 ... --

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