AIPAC panel hints at deep US-Israel divide on Iran

Ex-IDF military intelligence chief Yadlin to US: ‘You don’t want another war, understandably. But this is not a war, this is a one-night operation’

Haviv Rettig Gur is The Times of Israel's senior analyst.

WASHINGTON — A panel discussion in Washington Monday hinted at wide gaps between Israel and the US on how to coordinate the two countries’ strategies on Iran.

“We all share the same data, the same intelligence. We are also on the same page on the strategic goal to prevent Iran from being nuclear,” the former head of IDF Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin told some 13,000 participants at the AIPAC policy conference. “But between the floor and the ceiling of the problem, there are doors and windows where we’re not in the same place. We should be much closer on how to prevent Iran to go nuclear.”

Coordination on Iran is expected to be at the top of the agenda during President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the region later this month.

In response to Yadlin’s comments, Senator John McCain, a fellow panelist at the conference, said, “It’s vitally important that in Tehran they understand that there’s no space between the US and Israel. They believe right now that there is space between the two countries.”

Yadlin, who today heads the INSS think tank at Tel Aviv University, hinted that the Iranian regime’s sense of the gap between Israel and the US may be justified.

“The time is running out in 2013,” he said. The difference between the United States and Israel on the question could be summed up by “three ‘T’s,” Yadlin said, “a different trauma, a different trigger, and maybe not enough trust.”

“We, the Israelis, come [to the issue] with the Holocaust. We are six million Israeli Jews listening to [Iran’s President] Ahmadinejad calling for Israel’s destruction. You come with a different trauma, Iraq. You don’t want another war, understandably.”

But, Yadlin added, “This is not a war, this is a one-night operation, and we should speak about it.”

“We don’t always agree on tactics,” Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged in his talk to the conference shortly after the panel. But, Biden said, “I’ve been here a long time. We’ve always disagreed on tactics. But we’ve never disagreed on the strategic imperative, that Israel can always protect its own on its own.”

Biden added that the Obama administration had invested heavily in military assistance to Israel, particularly in missile defense to counter a potential Iranian attack.

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