In an exclusive interview with Ynet, Stephen Hadley, who served as the national security advisor under former US president George W. Bush and took part in the most sensitive decisions related to the Middle East, was present at the international annual defense conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and shared his opinions on the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Addressing criticism over US Secretary of State John Kerry's heavy involvement in the peace talks, Hadley said that it was primarily the parties' decision to meet and negotiate.
Regarding the administration's behavior in the negotiations, Hadley said: "Secretary Kerry is encouraging them – at some point I suspect he will provide bridging proposals – and I think this is actually exactly the right role for the US administration to play."
He noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not "being particularly pressured by the United States."
Commenting on the collaboration between American and Israeli officials, Hadley said: "There have been long consultations between the prime minister and President Obama (and) Secretary Kerry. Secretary of State Kerry is pushing hard on issues like security, like recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, things that are priorities for Prime Minister Netanyahu. So I actually think that the coordination between American officials and Israeli officials, including the prime minister, looks to me to be pretty good."
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Hadley also addressed Israel's security problems, including the conflict surrounding the Jordan Valley: "That's an issue that is going to have to be worked out among the parties. It's an issue of security for the Israelis; it's an issue of sovereignty and self-respect for the Palestinians. And that's going to be one of the issues that will have to be addressed in the negotiations between the parties."
The national security advisor also made statements regarding the growing concern in Israel about the possibility of a serious boycott from Europe, saying it is a "troubling prospect." He added that "It (the boycott) is something that would not be constructive in terms of encouraging the peace negotiations. I would hope those who are pushing for the idea of the boycott would reconsider. It will not achieve the desired purpose if it is to try to encourage the parties to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace."
Regarding Americans and Israelis difference of opinions concerning the Iranian nuclear program, Hadley sided with US President Obama's commitment to a diplomatic solution: "I think of course we need to try the diplomatic solution, that's what the sanctions that Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu have so much championed. Of course, the whole purpose of those sanctions was to put pressure on Iran to give up its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. People I think are realistic about the negotiations. I think President Obama has said that it's a less than 50-50 chance."
Hadley concluded the interview by sharing his views on the complex issue of trust in the Iranian government, noting that "the agreement that hopefully we would obtain is one that would not require us to believe in the regime. It would involve commitments made by the regime, verification measures to ensure they're complying with those commitments, and then agreed sanctions if they are not.
Hadley added that "one would like to hope over time we would build trust in the Iranian regime, but on the nuclear issue there is little basis for that trust. Therefore we need firm commitments, strong verification and remedies in the event that those commitments are violated."