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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora