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How Israel Will Thwart Any Rapprochement Between Trump and Iran

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As the opening of the United Nations General Assembly approaches this week, there's speculation about a grand summit featuring the presidents of Iran and the United States.

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The logic is there’s an alignment in the policy clocks in Washington and Tehran: President Donald Trump wants a diplomatic achievement ahead of a reelection in 2020, and the Iranian leadership is anxious to resuscitate its cratering economy.

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But deadlock won’t transform into détente so easily. Four inconvenient realities will loom large in the negotiating room, namely presidential disproportion; nuclear distrust; increased regional discord; and stakeholder dissent.

And Israel, prime target of both Iran’s nuclear program and its precision-missile equipped proxy, Hezbollah, may have to risk its close relations with the Trump White House to obstruct any rapprochement.

First, it would be a dramatic tête-à-tête between Donald Trump and Hassan Rohani, featuring two fundamentally different actors.

Trump came to power as the ultimate political outsider, from the world of real estate and reality television. But Rohani ascended to the presidency as the ultimate political insider, a member of parliament turned secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator.

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There’s an asymmetry in power as well. Where Trump is constitutionally empowered to close a deal as the commander-in-chief, Rohani is constitutionally disempowered, being subordinate to the Supreme Leader who wields a powerful veto.

Stylistic differences will also predominate. Trump is brash, pushing the envelope on assertions of executive authority in Washington. Rohani is deferential in Tehran, with parliamentarians recently accusing him of being too meek in the face of........

© Haaretz