Saban hints: Clinton opposes the Iran deal

Just minutes before Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, Israeli Channel One News interviewed Haim Saban, an American-Israeli media magnate and long-time Clinton supporter. Noticeably excited, he explained that she had waited to make the announcement until she had carefully prepared the ground for her campaign.

Then came the big question: What is her position on the Iran deal?

{mosads}Saban responded carefully, “She will have to, at some stage, express her opinion. But we know that in essence and in every important matter, she is committed to the security of Israel. She is a friend of the State of Israel. And we’ve seen this over the past 25 to 30 years. So, there won’t be any problems with relations between the United States and Israel when Hillary Clinton is president. No problem. On the contrary.”

But Ya’akov Ayalon, the host of the nightly Channel One news pressed on: And where does Hillary Clinton stand on this issue?

“I know where she stands but I can’t talk about it,” Saban admitted.

“Give me a hint,” Ayalon had to ask.

“I hinted to you – that I know,” Saban couldn’t repress a laugh. “But I can’t reveal to you things that were said behind closed doors. She has an opinion, a very well-defined opinion. And in any case, everything that she thinks and everything she has done and will do will always be for the good of Israel. We don’t need to worry about this.”

The implication: Clinton is against the Iran deal.

Why? Because Israelis – across the political spectrum – are against the deal, and Saban knows this. From the extreme left of Zionist parties and partisans to the extreme right, Israelis oppose the deal. For Haaretz reporter Ari Shavit, it’s President Obama’s big mistake. Former Prime Minister and head of the Labor Party Ehud Barak came right out and urged the United States to tell Iran to “dismantle or else.” Barak said, “The Pentagon and the forces of America under the backing and probable directive of the [US] president [could] create an extremely effective means to destroy the Iranian nuclear military program over a fraction of one night.” And as the former IDF Chief of General Staff and Israeli Minister of Defense, Barak might know a thing or two about this topic.

Barak is not alone. Israelis, across the political spectrum, want the military option on the table – on the negotiating table, where it belongs. The debate in Israel is not whether the deal is good. It’s whether Prime Minister Netanyahu is responsible for the bad deal – by spoiling Israel’s relations with the United States, or whether Obama is responsible for the bad deal by virtue of his unrealistic idealism and tendency to over-compromise.


So when Yaakov Ayalon says, “Give me a hint” and Haim Saban says “I hinted to you – that I know,” and just after he’s said “there won’t be any problems with relations between the United States and Israel when Hillary Clinton is president,” that means he is convinced that Hillary Clinton is against the Iran deal.

And this is big news. Israelis have been anxiously waiting for Hillary Clinton to openly state her position on the Iran deal. Congress is the last bastion of hope for Israel. Well before the P5+1 negotiations in Lausanne, Israeli news analysts focused intently on the Corker-Menendez bill. If Hillary Clinton comes out against the deal, more Democrats will join Republicans in demanding that Iran abandon its nuclear ambitions. And this is what Israelis, across the political spectrum, are praying for.

Friedman is an American-Israeli writer and editor in the fields of political science, history, and information technology.

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