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IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll now introduce our distinguished guest; Trita Parsi is a co-founder and current President of the National Iranian American Council which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promoting Iranian-American participation in the America civic life. He has served, as an adviser now imprisoned congressman Bob Ney on Middle East issue and has worked for the Swedish parliament permanent mission at the UN in New York he served served in the UN security counsel handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Tajikistan and Western Sahara and he served on the general assemblies third committee addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Iraq. Dr. Parsi writes regularly on Middle East affairs and this work has been published in the number of leading newspapers and magazine. He is a frequent commentator on US Iranian relations and Middle Eastern affairs and he is on BBC. YouÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll see him on PBS news hours, CNN, Al Jazeera, and I recently caught him on Democracy Now. WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve talked of the Iranian nuclear thread heating up, tension between Iran and Israel is dangerously high and the risk of a war involving the United States looms. According to Dr. Parsi, efforts to defuse those tensions have failed because the real roots of the hostility between Iran and Israel have eluded Washington policy makers. Here to discuss the strategic three way relationship. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Dr. Trita Parsi. Thank you so much and thank you all for coming today. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a great pleasure being back here in San Francisco and great to see that there is such an interest in this topic. It is indeed one of the most important issues that the United States currently is facing. Before going to the book, I just want to tell you a little bit about how come I ended up writing this book and what the background of it was. I started doing my Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins late August 2001 and the topic that I wanted to write about was Afghanistan. I dealt with it a little bit in the Security Council. But about 11 days later, 9/11 occurs and overnight, everyone in Washington suddenly is an Afghan expert. So, I felt well that market has saturated so I need to focus on what the next is likely conflict in the Middle East is gonna be and Iranian and Israel was the obvious answer to me. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve been working on US-Iran relations for quite sometime and always felt that the Israel factor was a little of 800 pound gorilla. Everyone knew that it was very, very important but no one could really pin it down and understand why and how etc. etc. So, I thought it would be a great thing to focus on that and it was an area, almost nothing had been written on. The last book that was written on Iranian and Israel directly addressing was in 1987 by an Israeli journalist, by the name of Samuel Sagat. He did a fantastic work but his book was based solely on his access to Israeli officials as well as Israeli documents. I wanted to see if it would be possible to write something on this very important secretive relationship but actually taking a look at all sides of the story. So, I went to Iran, I went to Israel and since I'm based in D.C. I had access to a lot of American officials as well, all together about 130 interviews with senior officials and all three countries to be able to patch together this very, very fascinating and yet very at times depressing relationship that has existed. Before I go into the most depressing parts of it, let me also say couple things that there is a human side to this story. We should never forget that the relationship between the Jewish people and the Iranian people have historically been an absolutely excellent one, starting all the way back in 539 BC when Cyrus the Great, Emperor of the Persian states, conquered Babylonia and freed the Jewish population there from the Babylonian captivity. A third of those Jews went and settled in Iran which was then the world sole super power. A third of them stayed in Babylonia became todayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Iraqi Jews and the third back to Palestine Israel and rebuilt the temple using Persian tax money. And ever since there is been a very large Jewish community in Iran. Until this day, there are 25,000 Jews still living in Iran which makes them the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel itself and they have been in integral parts of Iranian history, of Iranian cultures, and IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s political development. Many Iranian Jews like to remind their muslim country men that they were actually Iranian Jews about a thousand years before their ever was an Iranian Muslim. Now, unfortunately things have change quite a lot and I want to read those short sections from the book in regards to how, this has also put a tremendous amount of strain on the Jewish population of Iranian descent. They are now about 200 or so thousand Jews living in Israel that are of Iranian descents. As some 200,000 Iranian Jews and their descendants lived in Israel, some of them belong to the highest levels of the Israeli political elite. In the Islamic republic, these individuals would never have been able to excel in their careers. Long before reaching prominence, they would have been stopped by the glass ceiling that separates religious minorities, seculars, and disbelievers from those considered to be capable of being loyal to the Islamic republic. Current or actually he is no longer current Israeli present Moshe Katzav and deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz were both born in Iran. The recently resigned chief of the IDF, the Israeli defense forces, Dan Halutz was born to Persian immigrants to Israel. When Katzav worked at the UN, a favorite pastime of his was to embarrass Iranian diplomats at various events by seeking to converse with them in Persian. Forbidden to talk to Israeli officials at least in public, the Iranian diplomats could rid themselves of the unrelenting Katzav only by leaving the events. Katzav found this profoundly amusing. Mofaz and Halutz however approached on with the bit less humor. They are some of the most hawkish Israeli leaders regarding Iran. When asked in a press conference in January 2005, how far Israel would go? To stop IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s nuclear program, Halutz, a former pilot gave a chilling response 2000 kilometers. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the distance between Iran and Israel. Now, lets take a step back and IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m gonna give you quote. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a quote from an Israeli prime minister. It is, Iran is IsraelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s best friend and we do not intend to change our position in relation to Tehran. This is said by an Israeli prime minister but it is not Ben Gurion in the 50s and 60s. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s not Golda Meir in the 70s. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s actually Yitzhak Rabin in 1987, Khomeini was still alive and he was still calling Israel, a cancerous tumor that needed to be removed from the region. I wanted to give you that quote, to show the complexity of Israeli Iranian relations, a complexity that is often times missed out on by focusing too much on the rhetoric, being blinded by the ideology. Certainly today when president Ahmadinejad is making his most controversial statements about Israel, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s difficult and one shouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t dismiss the rhetoric and the ideology. But they excessive focus on it has caused decision makers to fail to realize the true nature of the conflict that exist between these countries and by so also being able to fail. To find what the most appropriate solution would be. Iran and Israel have for a long time after the founding of Israel actually had positive relations. In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, there were two critical factors that push these two countries closer together. These factors were the common threats. Both Iran and Israel feared Soviet penetration of the Middle East and they sense a tremendous threat from the Arab world particularly pan-Arabism in the nationalist Arab states such as Iraq and Egypt. The common threat caused these two states to have geopolitical imperatives that were uncommon and they started to cooperate behind the scenes. The Iranians wanted to keep this as a secret as possible figuring that as long as it was secret, as long as they could keep Israel at a certain distance, they would be able to benefit from their relationship without attracting Arab anger that otherwise would be directed at Israel. So the Iranians built a special tarmac at Tehran airport, far, far away from the central terminal in which all the Israeli airplanes were to land at night so that no one would notice how many Israelis were coming to Iran. When Rabin was visiting Iran, he will always wear a wig to make sure that no one would be able to recognize him. And the Iranian themselves, never flew directly to Israel, they always flew to Turkey and from Turkey they flew to Israel and they never have their passport stamped in Israel, so it looked as if they had visited Turkey. And even though Iran had a mission in Israel, it was labeled Bern too; Bern, Switzerland, and this was the second embassy in Bern according to Iranian papers. For Israel obviously was important to get this relationship to be as public as possible because the value of having any Muslim state in the region coming out and having this close relationship with Israel was obviously undeniable to Israel but it was important to not push too hard and force the Shah to not be able balance his relationship between Israel and the Arabs. Come 1979, you have a complete shift in the ideology of the Iranian state going from being a nationalist monarchy, very autocratic to becoming now a religious ideological state at least at a surface. But even though IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ideology shifted tremendously, the geopolitical situation did not change that much. Iran was still threatened by the Arab world and this was no longer a theoretical threat after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. The Iranian still feared the Soviet Union they have done so for 500 years. In fact, paradoxically Iran was having greater need of Israel now because it also managed to make an enemy out of the United States through the hostage crisis. Israel continued to fear the Arab bloc particularly Iraq now when Egypt had been turned into a friend through the Camp David Accords and the Soviet Union was a problem for the Israelis because it was the power that was providing the arms to the Arab states that had a negative relationship with Israel. So immediately after the revolution, the Israelis were doing everything they could to make sure that they retain their relationship with Iran inspite of the regime change. The Israelis had successfully done so in Ethiopia when Ethiopia had a switch and had a change of regime and actually jumped sides in the cold war. And the Israelis were doing everything they could to be able to do the same thing with Iran. Only three days after Saddam invaded Iran. The Israeli deputy defense minister held a press conference in Vienna an improvised press conference and which he urged the United States to put the past behind it and help Iran keep up its defenses against Iraq. This was said at a time that 52 American diplomats were still held the hostage in Iran and it was done because for Israel, Iran was still the critical state. It was one of the periphery states that according to the Israeli, security doctrine Israel need it to have a good relationship. Israel had this doctrine of the periphery thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s said in order to maximize Israeli security, you have to make friends with a non Arab states in the regions periphery in order to have them help you balance the Arab states in Israels vicinity, the inner and the outer circle. And throughout the 1980s, the Israelis were selling arms to Iran because Iran had an American army but America refused to sell any spare parts to Iran because of the hostage crisis and because of the negative relationship and Iran could only find those spare parts in two places. Vietnam that had a large number of American weaponry after the war the 70s in Israel and Israel was eagerly using its access to American spare parts in order to be able to rebuild its relationship with the Iranians. And the Iranians recognized that in spite of their ideological objectives, their security imperatives necessitated a relationship with Israel but the Iranians want it to have it both ways. The new regime had the aspiration of being a leader in the entire Islamic world and that necessitated being able to take a very, very strong stands on Palestinian issue and other issues in order to show IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Islamic credentials. But at the same time they were at war with one of the most powerful Arab states and they need it to be able to make that they could survive. So the Iranian response was increase the rhetoric against Israel while making sure behind the scenes, to continue to work together and the more the Iranians did not help the Palestinians in spite of the promises that they had made that the new government would he helpful to the Palestinians. The more the Palestinians complained that Iran only provided rhetorical support, the more the Iranians increase the rhetoric against Israel in order to cover up that in essence in operational policy, they were not doing much to help the Palestinian cause. And this continued throughout the 1980s. I interviewed a senior Iranian official or strategist rather who had spent a three hour conversation with Ayatollah Khomeini to be able to understand exactly what the policy was it Iran would pursue vis-a-vis the Palestinians. And Khomeini said that the Palestinian issue is primarily a Palestinian issue and Palestinians should at the forefront. At the second level, it should involve the Arab states that are bordering Palestine and Israel and only at the third level which is only at a rhetorical and ideological level should Iran be involved. Iran should never become a front-line power against Israel and the Iranian stucked to this idea throughout the 1980s and as a result, it was Israel that during the 1980s was lobbying Washington to sell arms to Iran, to open up dialogue with Iranians and perhaps most surprisingly not pay attention to Iranian rhetoric. Obviously, as a completely different situation from what we have today but the real shift comes in 1991-93 because after that collapse of the cold, the Soviet Union, the end of the cold war and the defeat of Iraq in first Persian gulf war, the two factors that had brought Israel and Iran closer together suddenly evaporated. It was no longer Soviet Union. It was no longer a powerful Arab state with the standing army that could pose a conventional threat to both Israel and to Iran. And the end of the cold war improved the security environment both for Iran and for Israel but it also left both of them unchecked. Just as much as Iran was needed to check Iraq. To certain extent, Iraq served the purpose of checking Iran but there was no longer in Iraq that could do so and many people in Israel started to believe that Iran could potentially now become a real threat to Israel. The end of the cold war completely reconfigures the geopolitical map of region and this provides Israel with a challenge and the Iranians with an opportunity. Iran had because of its own policies ended up in significant isolation throughout the 1980s..Very poor relations with the United States but now in the early 1990s, Ayatollah Khomeini had passed the new leadership under Hashemi Rafsanjani wanted to be able to rebuild the relationship with the west because they recognized that Iranian state and particular the revolution could not survive unless they had access to Western investment and Western technology. They needed to have a better relationship with the US and in 1989, George Bush, Sr. and his inaugural address says, goodwill will beget goodwill sending Iran a signal that if Iran stretched out a hand and help the United States, the United States would reciprocate. So, the Iranians did that. They put pressure on Hezbollah to release all the American hostages in Lebanon and comes the Persian Gulf War, the Iranians adopted a policy that they called positive neutrality but in essence, it was a policy in favor of the United States. They communicated with the US behind the scenes. They had permitted the United States to use Iranian airspace to attack Iraq and perhaps most importantly, once the war was over and there was a Shite uprising in southern Iraq. The Iranians did not put any fuel on the fire. They did not come in to help there Shiite brethren and thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s was deeply appreciated by the Bush administration because it evaded a potential civil war in Iraq back in 1991. Perhaps similar to what we see today in Iraq. The Iranians were hoping that this aid that they had given to the United States and in their minds they probably exaggerated, their own utility but that would enable them to them to come back him from the cold and now be part of the security architecture of the Middle East. It was a statement by James Baker, the then secretary of state, the basic he was a music to the ears of the Iranians. He thanks Iran for the role they had played and said that in the post Saddam Middle East, they should be new security architecture and Iran should be included. This was critical to the Iranians. This was a time for them to be able regain the position that they had back in the 1970s. For Israel, however, the end of the cold war, the reconfiguration of the geopolitical map was more of a challenge than an opportunity. Throughout the Persian Gulf war, the United States had assembled and Arab alliance against Iraq, within the International alliance. It was critical for the United States to make sure that this was an alliance that had as many Arab States in it as possible to show that this was not western war against Iraq. This was the international community including Arab States against Iraqi transgression and aggression in Kuwait. So, in order to get Arabs to join the coalition, the United States needed to keep Israel out. In the Bush administration and secretary Baker were spending a tremendous amount of diplomatic capital, bringing Syria, Jordan, Egypt into the coalition and at the same time keeping Israel out ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“coz if Israel came in to the coalition, the Arabs would immediately walk out and Saddam Hussein fully understood this and thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s part of the reason why he sent 34 Scud missiles into Israel in the hope that Israel would retaliate. And the minute the Israelis would retaliate the Arabs would walk out of the coalition and United States is position vis-a-vis Iraq would have been significantly weakened. Israel showed tremendous constraint. Just as much as during the entire 1980s, Israel never reciprocated Iranian rhetoric against the Israel and never described Iran as a threat. Yitzhak Shami took a very, very difficult decision and agreed not to retaliate against Iraq which for many of the Israelis was very, very tough because Israels aura of its deterrence was its ability to strike back significantly whenever any Arab country had attacked and this time 34 Scuds not a single a response from the Israelis. But this created at the same time tremendous fear in Israel because now is it in a position that is kept out of the coalition; the United States was currying favor with Arab governments. He had given a promise to the Arab that if help the United States against Iraq, the United States would after the war put together conference and push for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and pressure Israel to compromise with the Palestinians. So Israel was fearing. What is IsraelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s new position going to be in the Middle East if the United States is now improving its relations with the Arab states? Its promising them to put pressure on Israel and at the same time, what would this position be in addition to this if the United States and Iran suddenly also started talking in improving their relationship. There was a fear in Israel that if the United States and Iran were to improve their relationship, it would come at Israeli security interest expense and this is the time in which Israel for the first time since 79 starts to suddenly talk about Iran as a strategic and as a global threat. October 1992, after the labor government comes into power a major landslide victory that they had in June of that year. The new Israeli thinking was that the periphery doctrine need to be inverted. Instead of seeking better relationships with periphery states, now the strategy was to improve the relations with the Arabs in the vicinity in order to be able to face off a potential threat in the future coming from the periphery and the periphery was Iran but it was an exaggerated threat picture because Yitzshak Rabin recognized that in order to be able to sell to a very skeptical Arab Israeli public that it now needed to make peace with the Palestinians after having growing up for two generations seeing them as lethal enemies now there were suddenly gonna be peace partners. There was a need for a looming threat in the horizon that would be able to convince the Israeli public to move towards peace with the Palestinians. And the idea was to increase IsraelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s significance in Washington by painting out that there was a new threat in the region and Israel was critical to the United States for off setting that threat. And according to one Israeli person that I spoke who was involved in this, there was a feeling in Israel that because of the end of the cold war relations with the US were cooling and we needed some new glue for the alliance and the new glue was radical Islam and radical Islam was Iran. Now, you have a completely different picture whereas Israel and Iran were both trying to court United States and Israel wanted the US and Iran to open up talks back in the 80s. Only six years after Rabin made that quote I mentioned earlier on. You have a situation in which both Iran and Israel are on the undermining US foreign policy initiatives that they feared would be beneficial to the other. They both felt that they needed to improve their relationship with the United States and both felt that it would come at the expense of the other. So the Israelis start creating obstacles for any US Iran rapprochement, pushing for sanctions and other political obstacles that would make it as difficult as possible for the US and Iran to enter into negotiations. With the fear that if the US and Iran were to talk together, the US and Iran would strike a new relationship and that relationship could come at the expense of Israel. Iran had a different perspective but came to similar conclusions. The reasoning in Iran was that through the peace process and IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s exclusion from regional affairs. The United States was trying to create a new order in the Middle East based on IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s prolonged isolation and the weakest link in the American strategy was the peace process. If there could not be a successful peace process, none of the American objectives or Israeli objectives could be achieved. So now the Iranians started targeting Israel for the first time. Instead of just having rhetoric now it became operational policy. Now is the time they started reaching out to rejectionist Palestinian organization, which Iran throughout the 1980's had actually had very negative relations with. Iran had very negative relations with the PLO because it was seen as Arab nationalist movement, very secular, and very poor relations with Hamas because Hamas was a Sunni fundamentalist organization coming out of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, which was quite Anti-Shiite. And perhaps more importantly both the PLO and Hamas were siding with Iraq throughout the Iraq and Iran War. So in spite of Iran's rhetoric its relations with the Palestinians are quite poor. But now the Iranians and the rejectionist Palestinian organization actually have a common threat. If there had been a successful peace process, Iran would have ended up on a prolonged state of isolation and the two state solutions would have made the other Palestinian organizations quite irrelevant. And let me give you a quote from Martin Indyk, who was the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in the Clinton administration, a very critical person not only in the peace process but also in promulgating the policy of dual containment, the idea that in the new Middle East it will be based on Iran and Iraq's dual exclusion and containment. According to Indyk, the Iranians have every incentive to oppose the peace process. Our strategy was to on one hand, use the engine of peace making to transform the region, and on the other hand, contained the Iranians through sanction and isolation. The two were symbiotic, the more we succeeded in making peace, the more isolated the Iranians would become. The more we succeed in containing the Iranians, the more possible would it be to make peace. So they had an incentive to do us in on the peace process, in order to defeat our policy of containment and isolation, and therefore they took aim at the peace process. My interviews with the Iranian officials has actually echoed this. One official I spoke to was basically saying that Iran preferred Likud. Because Likud was not interested in a peace that would seek Iran's exclusion. And as a result, was not interested in a scape goat of turning Iran to be the biggest threat to the region, in order to be able to bring the Arabs to thee Israel side as well as convincing the Israeli public to make peace with palestinians. And this continues and then in 1996, there four key terrorist attacks in Israel, killing I think more than 79 Israeli civilians. Only a couple of weeks before the elections. Shimon Peres lose those elections with a razor thin margin to Nethanyahu. Nethanyahu came into power and the peace process basically strarted to die from that moment. Till this day Peres believed that the Iranian sponsored those four attacks for the purpose of turning the Israeli public against the peace process and on electing him. Whether it's true or not, I have not been able to find out but certainly the perspective in Iran was that the peace process and the effort to build a new order into the region based on Iran's isolation was a major threat. A couple of years later though, with Hatami coming to power in Iran, the Iranians started to improved their relationship with European states as well as with many of its Arab neighbors. It's interesting to see Iran's behavior vis-a-vis the Camp David to talks in 2000, compared to what they were doing in 1994. In 1994 the Iranians were heavily supporting many of these organizations. By 2000, the Iranians didn't feel that there was a threat in the same way from a successful peace process. Because they had improved their relations with the Arab states and the Europeans to this extent, that even if a peace had been achieved between the Palestinians and Israelis; it would not come at Iran's expense and would not lead to IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s prolonged isolation. There have been numerous cases in which the Iranians and Israelis have reach out to each other. 1996, Netanyahu who is one of the most hawkish leaders in Israel today were reaching our extensively to Iran because he didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t believe in the peace process and he felt that it was critical to be able to re patch relationship with Iran. The Iranians were not interested. But the most important outreach perhaps came in 2003 in which in May of that year, the Iranian sent over a proposal to the Bush administration to offer broad negotiations between the two countries, basically putting on the table almost every issue that existed between them with the exception of human rights in Iran. Within the framework of the negotiations, the Iranians offer to have full transparency in their nuclear program. Decisive action against any terrorist above all Al Qaeda. Coordination in Iraq with the United states to ensure that the new government in Iraq will not be a sectarian one. The Iranians had successfully cooperated with the United States and provided very significant help in achieving exactly that goal in Afghanistan only a year and half earlier. Stop all support for Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Turn Hezbollah into a mere political organization, basically meaning disarming them and perhaps most importantly, sign on to the peace ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the Saudi peace plan, the Beirut declaration, the idea that the Arab world would jointly recognize the Israeli states if Israel recognize the Palestinian state. An acceptance by Iran of the two state solution. Iranians have never before offered to have any negotiation in which that would be included and potentially happening. The proposal went to the Bush administration May 3, 2003. It got no response. It was only weeks not days after the United States have defeated Sadam Hussein and taken Baghdad and there was a tremendous amount of confidence in the White House and a sense perhaps that whatever the United States could gain by negotiating by Iran and all of these things that the Iranian have put on the table were basically the aims of US foreign policy for the last 15 years when it came to change an Iranian behavior. But whatever they could achieve, the United States could achieve even more by simply removing the government in Iran. This back in the time when the world regime change was a very popular term and seen as a very successful policy. What is less know though is that the Iranians actually sent the former head of the IRGC a couple of weeks earlier to a conference in Europe, sponsored by UCLA and funded by the Pentagon and this conference takes place a couple of times a year. You have security people and decision makers from all of the region particularly very high number of Israelis coming there to discuss various sensitive issues. The Iranians when theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re not making a proposal to Israel per se. By knowing very well that it was a very large number of Israelis at the conference and they were the key target and they were presenting the frame work of this arrangement that they want to find with the US. With the purpose, I strongly believe. To get some Israeli buy in and assure Israel that if Iran and the Unites States would make a deal, it would not come at the expense of Israel because part of that deal would be to change Iranian behavior towards Israel. I have spoken to people who are at that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ in the rooms at the time including Ze'ev Schiff one of IsraelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s most respected military journalist who passed away just a couple of months ago. His sense was that he did not trust the Iranians. I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t think thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s any Israelis you would find would. But he also said that he has heard this message too many times now. To get a sense that this was not just an empty talk, this was actually a clear policy and his assessment was that it was huge mistake not to pursue it, not to follow it and see where it could lead. Some people would say that this is spilled milk, this is in the past. Perhaps that proposal is not resurrectable but it is extremely important in my view because it shows that there is a solution to this conflict. This is not a conflict that is idealogically driven, If it was idealogically driven, Iran and Israel would have much poorer relations in the 80ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s when IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ideological zeal was at its top and would actually have improve their relations in the 1990ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s when IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s idealogical zeal was plummeting. Instead, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the other way around. IsraelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s most harshest rhetoric about Iran came at time when IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s zeal and ideological fervor was declining very, very fast. It is the geo strategic shift that much better explain why there was a shift in the relationship and at what time those shifts came. And this is important because right now, you have people on all three sides of this triangle trying to portray this conflict and the larger conflict in the Middle East as an ideological. TheyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re saying that it is 1938 and Iran is Germany. And then they go on to imply that Ahmedinejad is Hitler. If we accept the premises of this analogy, that it is 1938, it is Iran that is Germany and Ahmedinejad is Hitler, then which decision maker in his or her right mind will like to play the role of Neville Chamberlain., The British Prime Minister who thought he can negotiate with the Germans. This is an analogy that deliberately tries to make the diplomatic options a non option. Eliminate diplomacy from the table and when you eliminate diplomacy from the table by portraying this as an ideological battle that has no solution. Then you make war inevitable. And we have to ponder upon this very carefully right because war is not inevitable. Rather than focusing on portraying at such, we should focus on making peace possible and it is possible. Now I think many of the exchanges that have taken place behind the scene show that this is strategic rivalry between these countries. Iran is using the Israel card as part of its toolbox on how to put pressure in the United States and at the right time at the right price, they are ready to shift that policy. And Israel too is not an ideological battle with the Iranians even though it is much easier to get western support if it is portrayed as an ideological battle between the sole democracy in the Middle East and a tyrannic Islamic dictatorship. I think in the next couple of months we may end up in a military conflict between these countries and I think that it would be an absolute shame if that were to happen because IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m absolutely confident that if diplomacy is given a fair chance it can actually be successful because I remember when I saw that proposal in 2003, I was in congress at the time. I never expected the Iranians to make such an offer but it went to show that solutions that we cannot conceive of, I mean weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re far away from the negotiating table actually maybe possible when youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re sitting at the table. And if we sit at the table hope fully we will be able to see the true nature of this relationship and be able to find a true solution to it as well. Thank you.