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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs