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Netanyahu: Crying wolf again

Furious with the P5+1 for signing a deal with Iran, Netanyahu once again threatens to take military action unilaterally.

Last updated: 30 Nov 2013 11:21
Akbar Ganji

Akbar Ganji is one of Iran's leading political dissidents and has received over a dozen human rights awards for his efforts. Imprisoned in Iran until 2006, he is the author of The Road to Democracy in Iran, which lays out a strategy for a non-violent transition to democracy in Iran.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dismayed by the recent deal with Iran [AP]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Iran is after the physical destruction of Israel and wants to create a new Holocaust. This is a false claim. The meaning of the statements by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is that the Islamic Republic seeks a referendum in which all the Palestinians, as well as Jews and Christians of the historical Palestine, would participate, and through which the "government" of Israel would be de-established.

The reality is that Iran does not present an existential threat to the people of Israel. It is, in fact, Israel that is a serious threat to Iran. 

Former Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, anticipated the extent of a retaliatory response by Iran to an Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities to be limited to an estimated "500 death". "I don't think the result would be a world war or even a regional war," Yuval Steinitz, Israeli Minister of International Relations and Minister of Strategic Affairs, said on June 23. "I think Iran's possibilities to retaliate are very limited. It's also not in their interest to start a drawn-out war with the US. After all, their relations in the region are rather sensitive. I suppose there would be a response of two or three days of missile fire, perhaps even on Israel, on American bases in the Gulf. But I don't think it would be more than that - very limited damage."

The message is twofold: Israel is contemplating a military strike on Iran and it is, therefore, Israel, not Iran that is a menace to the security of a sovereign nation. Moreover, in the event of a military strike, Iran would be unable to present a serious threat to the security and the existence of Israel.

Diversionary tactic

IRAN DEAL

  Shifting the focus
  Questions beyond the deal
  Iran's nuclear history
  Timeline of Iran's nuclear programme
   Mixed reactions

The very nature of the negotiation process is threatening to Israel because it will expose its attempts to instil "Iranophobia" in the world: A quest for an excuse to divert attention from its apartheid regime that treats millions of Palestinians in the most inhumane and discriminatory manner. As put by Jimmy Carter in Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, "Israel's continued control and colonisation of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacle to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East." General James Mattis, who commanded US forces in the Middle East until March, also said that expanding the settlements would turn Israel into an apartheid state.

When the last round of negotiations were held in Geneva in early November, Netanyahu, while admitting his role in sabotaging efforts to reach a nuclear accord with Iran, pledged to mount an all-out Israeli effort to prevent what he called a "bad agreement" between Iran and the P5+1.

Who is the warmonger?

In the past 275 years, Iran has never initiated an attack on any country. In its little more than 60 years in existence, Israel, on the other hand, has not only illegally occupied Palestinian lands, as well as the Golan Heights that belong to Syria, it has also attacked and bombed other Arab countries in the region, such as Tunisia, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Over the last year alone, Israel has bombed Syria six times. 

Israeli officials expressed frustration with the Obama administration for confirming the latest airstrikes by calling the confirmation "scandalous" and "unthinkable". 

Key terms of the deal
What Iran must do
  • Halt enrichment above five per cent.
  • Dismantle technical connections required to enrich above five per cent.
  • Not install additional centrifuges of any type.
  • Not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.
  • Not construct additional enrichment facilities.
  • Not commission or fuel Arak reactor.
  • Provide daily access to IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow sites.
  • Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly, production and storage facilities.
  • Provide design information for Arak reactor.
What world powers offer in return
  • Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months
  • Suspend some sanctions on gold and precious metals, cars and petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion. 
  • Allow purchases of Iranian oil at their current levels.
  • License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
  • Allow $400m in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted funds directly to educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.

Israel's legendary former Defence Minister Moshe Dayan once said, "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." Netanyahu is now fabricating a new story, this time against Iran. He angrily warns that Iran would be getting "the deal of the century". "The Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva - as well they should be, because they got everything and paid nothing," said Netanyahu on November 8. "Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."  

What is the reason behind such brazen lies?

"I can understand why Netanyahu is so furious," said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli National Security Adviser. "A unilateral military option would have no real chance now. Not because we can't do it, but because it would be seen as moving against the whole international community," he told Reuters. "That is something Israel cannot afford."

"Netanyahu's worst nightmare is about to come true," said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "This is not just Netanyahu. This is the position of everyone in the Israeli security establishment."

"Netanyahu is unwise to challenge US so openly/dismissively on possible Iran nuclear deal," tweeted Nicholas Burns, a former senior US diplomat. "Netanyahu's outburst was a serious tactical error."

President Obama said that the new interim agreement with Iran "blocks Iran's path to nuclear weapon". Netanyahu is furious because if the accord between Iran and the P5+1 leads to proving that Iran is not seeking to make the bomb, there will be little wriggle room for Israel to divert the world's attention from the most inhumane treatment that millions of Palestinians receive.

Netanyahu is frustrated because he is fundamentally against Iran having access to nuclear energy, even for purely civilian purposes. He believes that Israel, which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has a "special right" to have hundreds of nuclear bombs, but that Iran, a member of the NPT, should not have the right to peaceful use of nuclear technology and should be subject to the most crippling economic sanctions, even though Iran has reiterated time and again that its programme is for peaceful purposes.

Not good for Israel 

Netanyahu is dangerous not only for Iran, but also for Israel and its people. If Israel launches military strikes on Iran, the repercussions will be grave, not only for Iran and Israel, but also for the entire region. The government of Israel is in the habit of launching brazen strikes on other sovereign nations on mere suspicion that they pose a threat to Israel security. It is routinely dictating what rights other countries may or may not have based on whether it thinks those rights may endanger its security. 

As if it is the government of Israel, a non-NPT member that has usurped the prerogative of NPT, to determine who can or cannot have access to nuclear energy. Netanyahu constantly manufactures crises to make people forget about Palestinians and the two-state solution. He is a threat, not only against the rest of the world, but also against his own people.

Akbar Ganji is one of Iran's leading political dissidents and has received over a dozen human rights awards for his efforts. Imprisoned in Iran until 2006, he is the author of one book in English, The Road to Democracy in Iran, which lays out a strategy for a non-violent transition to democracy in Iran.

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The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

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