A report issued on the eve of today’s summit between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama says U.S. policy toward Iran’s nuclear program could determine the outcome of the president’s administration.

The report, published by The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), warns the issue could be “the Cuban missile crisis all over again.”

“It will test the ability of the newly-elected U.S. president to confront the adversary and better him. In a way, this is a make-or-break situation for Obama,” analyst Ephraim Asculai wrote in the INSS report, titled “The Game with Iran.”

The INSS report said Tehran would test Mr. Obama’s resolve by continuing uranium enrichment and other activities required for nuclear weapons development.

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It also says the United States will likely be forced to confront rising instability in the Middle East sparked by Iran’s nuclear program, as well as by Tehran’s support for insurgency groups. The report cited Egypt’s capture of an alleged Hezbollah network, which reportedly planned attacks throughout the Sinai Peninsula as an example.

“Egypt is confronting Iran and instability is in the air,” the report said. “Perhaps more than the recent U.S. elections, the timetable is now dictated by the closing deadline of Iran’s nuclear progress.”

Earlier this month, CIA director Leon Panetta held a meeting with the Israeli prime minister and reportedly demanded Israel not take any military action against Iran.

Officials said Mr. Obama ordered Mr. Panetta’s visit because he wanted to avoid a long discussion on Iran during today’s meeting in Washington.

Mr. Asculai, a former official in the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said the Obama administration likely will pursue a diplomatic solution to Iran’s outlawed uranium enrichment program. But the report advises Mr. Obama to set a deadline for obtaining diplomatic results.

“In setting the time limit, the president must remember that any time gained by the Iranians during the negotiation process would be used to further advance their project,” the report warned.

The report said Iran could exploit the Obama administration’s diplomatic endeavors by insisting its nuclear project is nonnegotiable. Doing so, the report said, would harm U.S. influence throughout the Middle East, particularly among the Gulf Cooperation Council states, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Mr. Asculai urged Israel to delay plans to attack Iran and instead recommended the Netanyahu government give Mr. Obama time to discover how receptive Iran is to diplomacy.

“Should engagement fail, Israel would be in a better position to convince the United States, if not to actively support, then at least not to interfere, with any military action,” the report said.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.