Israel’s Security and Iran: A View from Lt. Gen. Dan Haloutz
While Israel and Iran continue trading covert punches and overheated rhetoric, the question of what Israel can and will do to turn back the clock of a nuclear Iran remains unanswered. Some Israelis fiercely advocate a preventive military strike, while others press just as passionately for a diplomatic track. How divided is Israel on the best way to proceed vis-à-vis Iran? Will Israel’s course put it at odds with Washington?
On September 11, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted Lt. Gen. Dan Haloutz, the former commander-in-chief of the Israeli Defense Forces, for a discussion on his views on the best approach to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Brookings Senior Fellow Kenneth Pollack provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
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Israel and Iran were on a collision course even without the JCPOA following apart. Now that Iran is rebuilding its nuclear infrastructure, it's difficult to see how conflict can be avoided—Israel has made it clear that a nuclear Iran is not an option, and Iran is all but daring Israel to stop it.
This back and forth — an Iranian attack on Israeli posts on the Golan and a widespread Israeli response against numerous Iranian targets in Syria — was not a one-off flare-up or a case of hot heads prevailing. This is part of a structural conflict unfolding between Israel and Iran in Syria.
For all of us who care about preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb, what’s the best way to keep preventing that? [The JCPOA is] not perfect, but it’s something. These conventions are never based on the premise that all the parties are telling the truth, it’s about enforcement mechanisms. No arms control agreement is based in trust.