Israel/West Deal: Iran for Peace

Israel and Western countries are shaping a deal for an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in return for "concessions" on the construction of Jewish settlements on occupied Arab territories and peace talks.

"Israel has chosen to place the Iranian threat over its settlements," a senior European diplomat told The Times on Thursday, July 16.

Europe and the US have recently been urging Israel to halt all settlement building in the occupied West Bank to facilitate the revival of stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

The right-wing government of Hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu has adamantly refused to stop settlement contractions.

But diplomats told The Times Israel had offered "concessions" on the settlement issue, the Palestinian state and the conflict with Arab neighbors in return for Western support for an Iran strike.

Israel has repeatedly threatened air strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

A British official said an Israeli strike will be "within the year" if the deal being shaped is agreed.

US Vice President Joseph Biden said last week that his country would not stand in the way of Israeli military action aimed at the Iranian nuclear program.

"Israel can determine for itself — it’s a sovereign nation — what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else."

Israel and the West accuse Tehran of developing a secret nuclear weapons program.

Iran insists that its nuclear program only aims at procuring power to feed an increasing local consumption.

Iran Message

The deal comes shortly after Israeli class warships sailed through Egypt’s Suez Canal, in a move seen as a message to Tehran.

"These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats," an Israeli defense official told the Times.

Two Israeli warships crossed the Suez Canal on Tuesday, July 14, less than two weeks after a Dolphin-class submarine, which can fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and serve as a second-strike platform, crossed the international waterway.

In case of an attack on Iran, the quickest route for Israeli military arsenal would be to sail them through the Suez Canal.

Going through the international waterway would also be the only way to get to the Gulf of Oman without refueling.

An Israeli diplomat said relations with Egypt have grown increasingly strong this year over the "shared mutual distrust of Iran".

As part of the Israeli preparations, the army successfully tested a missile system to intercept and destroy rockets fired from neighboring areas.

Israel will also soon test an Arrow interceptor missile on a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean to intercept ballistic missile attacks.

The Israeli Air Force will also send F16C fighter jets to participate in exercises at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada this month.

"This is preparation that should be taken seriously," said the Israeli official.

"Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran."

( and Agencies)

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