Zalman Shoval
Zalman ShovalFlash 90

Israelis need to get used to the idea that they are alone when it comes to dealing with Iran – and that they should not expect that the U.S. will fight Israel's battles for it. In an interview with Arutz Sheva, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval said that Israeli and U.S. interests diverged when it came to Iran. “We need to get used to the fact that, as usual, we are alone,” he said.

The current situation, he said, was reminiscent of the situation before the Six Day War, when Israel received no support from the U.S. – and indeed, was told point-blank by the Johnson administration that if Israel took the initiative and actively attacked Egypt, it would have to suffer the consequences itself, despite the fact that Egypt committed an act of war by closing off the Straits of Tiran.

The U.S., he said, will stand behind Israel if it appears necessary – if Israel, for example, appears to be losing – but when it comes to decisions on how to defend itself, Israel should not expect the U.S. to make recommendations.

The U.S. interest in the events in the Midldle East surrounding Iran go far beyond Israel's concerns over a nuclear-armed Iran, Shoval said. Until the election, the question of how an Israeli attack will affect his campaign is the number one interest of U.S. President Barack H. Obama, but Obama finally seems to have decided that he needs to take care of America's economy, Shoval said – and if reelected, that domestic agenda will be far more important to him than a nuclear Iran.

With that, he added, the U.S. understands that it must act to prevent Iran from going nuclear – not necessarily to save Israel, but to save its strategic position in the world, and in the Middle East in particular Eventually the U.S. will act, he said – but by the time the U.S. is ready to move, it may be too late. “The U.S. wants to put off the confrontation for a year or two, but every delay gives the Iranians another advantage,” Shoval said.

In the end, he added, it will be up to Israel to decide what is best for its interests. “Of course, we must do this in a way that does not dismiss or disdain our friendship with the U.S.,” he added.