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For Israel, new Iran deal perhaps better than no deal at all

Officially, Israel is against the negotiated new nuclear deal with Iran, but unofficially, it thinks the new deal would be better than no deal at all.
An Israeli air force F-15 Eagle fighter plane performs at an air show during the graduation of new cadet pilots at Hatzerim base in the Negev desert, near the southern city of Beer Sheva, Israel, June 29, 2017.

Israeli security experts are divided on the question of the new agreement nearing completion to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Israel’s official line continues to insist that the emerging deal is bad and dangerous, and that it is incumbent upon Israel to pull out all the stops in order to convince the Americans and their five partners to avoid signing it. But divergent views are also being voiced behind closed doors. According to the assessment of the Military Intelligence Directorate, for example, while the agreement is bad and risky, it is currently the best option available. In other words, the option of signing the agreement, as opposed to rejecting it for the sake of other alternatives, is the lesser evil. Put another way, it is horrendous, but there are worse disasters.

Proponents of this approach argue that reviving the 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers would grant Israel and its allies in the region and elsewhere an additional eight to nine years of relative calm, before Iran resumes its race for a bomb. This hiatus would allow Israel to invest in an accelerated military buildup to counter the Iranian threat and complete building the regional anti-Iran alliance it is promoting. As part of this buildup, Israel is putting together a framework it calls the Middle East Air Defense (MEAD) system with the participation of its regional allies, with other states in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, described as observers providing external support.

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