During the AIPAC Convention with the fanfare and fluff—as well as the heavy serious discussions—the question kept bothering occurring as to what the Obama-Netanyahu discussions really focused on. Today’s Haaretz story seems to have at least part of the answer.
The White House clearly wanted to hold off the Israelis and sought assurances from them for more time to see if negotiations on inspections, sanctions, etc., might still work. The U.S. intelligence and defense estimates apparently still believe, unlike the Israelis (or so it seems), that there is a bigger window before an Iranian nuclear weapons program will be irreversible.
The U.S. wanted the Israelis to give the America and its allies more time. Netanyahu wanted to impress upon President Obama that time was passing much faster than Washington believed and the window was closing.
It now seems that there indeed was a deal to be done. If Israel could receive the GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs and the advanced refueling aircraft that the Bush Administration had refused to make available to Israel, it would enhance Israel’s capability to strike Iran more effectively; if and when it would decide to do so. Since this would improve Israel’s destructive capability and air force effectiveness, there would be an additional window of time which Israel could permit for the Iranian sanctions and boycott to have a successful effect.
Presumably, Bibi now went home with a package which will make his military happy and his right-wing not feel he caved in. The President now has a sense that he might indeed have bought serious time until after November before a possible Israeli attack. In addition, both leaders gave the Iranians notice as well that the U.S. was making Israel’s military option even stronger.