News / Middle East

Wary of War, Israeli Public Gives Iran Deal a Chance

Israelis fish in the Mediterranean sea as aircraft prepares to land in Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv, Nov. 24, 2013.
Israelis fish in the Mediterranean sea as aircraft prepares to land in Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv, Nov. 24, 2013.
Reuters
Going about their business on Monday, Israelis seemed more accepting than their leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, of a nuclear deal with Iran that he rejected as a historic mistake.

On the streets of Israeli cities, people questioned about Sunday's interim accord between global powers and the Islamic Republic voiced doubts about an agreement that Netanyahu said would leave arch-foe Iran within reach of an atomic bomb.

But they also said the deal, which allows a six-month period of limits to Iran's nuclear program in exchange for up to $7 billion worth of sanctions relief, was preferable to war.

“I am leaning more to the side that it's worth the effort - the six months - to see if there's a chance there can be a diplomatic solution,” said Sharon Bar-Lev, 49, from the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv.

“We all want to avoid war in the long run,” Bar-Lev, who works in marketing, told Reuters.

Netanyahu, who had sought a dismantling of Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, shifted tack on Monday toward working with U.S. President Barack Obama to promote a tough final deal with Iran. He announced that his top security adviser would go to the United States soon to discuss it with U.S. officials.

Netanyahu's veiled threats to attack Iran to prevent it being able to make nuclear weapons have long set off alarms in Washington and other Western capitals.

But he has held his fire in the face of U.S. pressure and doubts that former Israeli security chiefs have been voicing for years over the armed forces' ability to put a permanent stop to Iran's nuclear drive. Their concerns have resonated deeply with Israelis.

Such anti-war sentiment has echoed on Tel Aviv's stock exchange, which hit a record high on Sunday after news an agreement had been reached in Geneva.

“The market believes the military option is off the table,” said Zach Herzog, head of international sales at Psagot Securities.

“Nobody wants to see a Middle East war break out and see missiles falling on Tel Aviv. Therefore, regardless of Netanyahu's pulpit sermon, the market forces will prefer to judge the agreement on reality,” he said.

Isolation

With an internationally backed interim deal now in place, any unilateral military move by Israel - assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power - could deepen its isolation.

“There is no way Israel, which is an ally of the United States and Europe and likes to view itself as the good guy in a difficult region, can attack Iran for six months after this agreement is signed,” Herzog added.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. Netanyahu, who won a new five-year term after an election in January, says it threatens Israel's very existence.

“I'm in favor of dialog over war,” said Ora Cohen, 61, a physical education teacher from Jerusalem. But she was nonetheless wary of trusting Iran's leaders. “Nobody wins a war,” she said. “But on the other hand, I don't believe them.”

At the same time, however, Cohen voiced a commonly held sentiment among Israelis that the moment has passed when Israel might have been able to use force to nip Iran's nuclear program in the bud: “I think it's too late,” she said. “At some point we should have acted. But that was a few years ago.”

Joshua Scherer, an 80-year-old former English teacher originally from New York, was skeptical of Obama, despite the president's assurance last year that Washington “will always have Israel's back”.

“This president, Obama, won't use force for anything,” Scherer said. “In any confrontation, we would be on our own.”

Dvorah Levine, 66, a retired school principal from Jerusalem, also felt the Geneva deal has left Israel standing alone: “The fact we are isolated in the world - it's frightening and unpleasant,” she said. “This isn't anything new, really though. We already knew the world doesn't like us.”

Halil Alian, a garage owner, said Washington's re-engagement with Iran, despite Netanyahu's objections, showed that Washington was focusing on its own wider interests in the Middle East at the expense of its traditional ally.

“We are simply chess pieces on a board and the Americans are the ones moving us around according to their strategic whims,” said Alian, 61.

For some in Israel, more widespread Israeli mistrust of Washington may also bring benefits - by making it less likely U.S.-brokered talks can reach a deal with the Palestinians.

Dani Dayan, a leader of the settler movement committed to expanding Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, said:   “In Geneva, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations came to an end - because Netanyahu will not move an inch based on American, international, guarantees that are essential to reach a deal.”

The peace talks, which resumed in July after a three-year break, have shown little sign of progress.

You May Like

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid