The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 23, 2013)
Israel must closely cooperate with U.S. over Iranian N-issue
イスラエル政権 イラン核問題で米と連携を(3月22日付・読売社説)

At their latest summit meeting, top U.S. and Israeli leaders stressed cooperation--demonstrating a recovery in bilateral relations, which have recently been stressed by differences over issues such as Iran's nuclear development and the Palestinian peace process.

It is important that the two countries utilize their renewed relations to stabilize the Middle East.

After Israel's general election in January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally launched a coalition administration. U.S. President Barack Obama was the first foreign leader to be welcomed by the administration.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, a major focus of the summit talks, Netanyahu acknowledged during a joint press conference with Obama that it would take one year for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon, even if it decided to go nuclear. Meanwhile, Obama emphasized, "We prefer to resolve this diplomatically, and there's still time to do so."


Diplomatic solution first

We can conclude that both countries have agreed to fully engage diplomatically to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.

Last September, Netanyahu warned global leaders that it was within the realm of possibility that Iran had enough highly enriched uranium to produce its first nuclear weapon by as early as this spring. He has also indicated that Israel may unilaterally attack Iran if the international community cannot stop the nation from possessing a nuclear weapon.

But as Netanyahu has reached a compromise with Obama at the latest summit talks, a situation in which Israel takes military action against Iran is unlikely for the time being.

Should Israel attack Iran, the effects of the war would undoubtedly spill over into other areas. For instance, crude oil prices would skyrocket, adversely affecting the global economy. It is for this and other reasons that Israel must refrain from using force.

Obama pledged that the United States would support Israel in matters of security. In a show of his country's intent to keep its promise, Obama inspected Israel's "Iron Dome," a mobile all-weather air defense system that the United States helped to develop.

The security situation around Israel has been increasing in severity. Its neighbor Syria has descended into civil war, and in Egypt, where Islamists have taken the reins of government, the economy and politics have been thrown into chaos. The circumstances surrounding the region are increasingly unclear. In such an environment, Israel needed to restore a cooperative relationship with the United States.

During the joint press conference, Netanyahu also confirmed Israel remains fully committed to the "two states for two peoples" solution to the Palestinian issue, an initiative promoting the coexistence of two states.


Weak administrative foundation

However, the growing number of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and a split in the Palestinian leadership have made reopening peace negotiations difficult. As a result, the process for establishing a Palestinian state is still nowhere in sight.

Netanyahu's administrative foundation is now weaker than it was before the election. His attempts to garner support with a hard-line stance against Iran have ended in failure.

After the election, the prime minister tried to establish a broad coalition administration. However, a religious party that once had been a former coalition partner decided to become part of the opposition, and Netanyahu's Likud party only succeeded in winning over middle-of-the-road and rightist parties. The stability of the new administration remains questionable.

Close cooperation with the United States is indispensable to maintain the Netanyahu government, and preserving its cooperation with the United States over the Iranian nuclear issue is an important pillar of that policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 22, 2013)
(2013年3月22日01時11分  読売新聞)