Decision Points


The United States, Israel, and the Iranian Nuclear Program

Season 3, Ep. 1

World attention has focused on the prospects of the United States and Iran finding terms that enable them to return to their 2015 nuclear deal. Yet what does this mean for all the unanswered challenges that President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken say are essential to address in a “longer and stronger” follow-on agreement? How will the United States preserve its leverage for such a second round? What incentives will Iran have to engage in negotiations after a Vienna deal is reached? And what does this mean for Israel and the rest of the Middle East?


For the first episode of the season, host David Makovsky discusses this major decision point with three guests who have deep expertise on Iran, the nuclear program, and Israel’s approach to deterring it. Ambassador Dennis Ross, the William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, formerly served as special assistant to President Obama and senior director for the Central Region at the National Security Council, among other prominent positions. Ray Takeyh is the Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the recent book The Last Shah: America, Iran, and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty. Ariel (Eli) Levite is a nonresident senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program and Cyber Policy Initiative at the Carnegie Endowment; previously, he served as principal deputy director-general for policy at the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission from 2002 to 2007.

More Episodes


The Abraham Accords One Year Later: Can They Change the Middle East?

Season 3, Ep. 9
August 13 marked the first anniversary of the breakthrough normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates—a deal followed shortly by accords with Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. In addition to strong U.S. mediation, several broader forces brought these countries together, including mutual concerns about Iran, Arab recognition of how Israeli technology could help their societies, and a desire to bolster the stability of pro-Western governments amid questions about America’s long-term commitment to the Middle East.Now that some Arab leaders see Israel as part of a solution to their challenges and are unencumbered by the enmity of the past, what will it take to deepen these relationships and extend them to other states? How does the Palestinian issue play into this effort? And what can Washington do to strengthen the Abraham Accords? To discuss these questions, David Makovsky hosts renowned experts Ebtesam al-Ketbi, Amos Yadlin, and Thomas Friedman.Ebtesam al-Ketbi is founder and president of the Emirates Policy Center and the first Arab woman to lead a think tank. Additionally, she is a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University and a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Consultative Commission.Amos Yadlin was executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University from November 2011 to May 2021. He also served in the Israel Defense Forces for forty years, including posts with the General Staff and as chief of military intelligence.Thomas Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist. He has written sevenNew York Timesbestsellers and received three Pulitzer Prizes—two for reporting from the Middle East and a third for his columns about 9/11.See for privacy and opt-out information.

One State or Two States? Trends in Israeli and Palestinian Public Opinion

Season 3, Ep. 8
In recent years, public support for the two-state solution has continued to erode on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Each party suspects that the other has completely given up on the idea, further weakening the political will and public trust needed to preserve it. Can leaders lead the public on this issue, or does the public lead them? Will Israel’s new government attempt to narrow these points of difference, and are the Palestinians still open to such gradualism?In this episode, David Makovsky hosts Khalil Shikaki, David Pollock, and Tamar Hermann for a discussion on what polling can tell us about these issues. Where does current Israeli and Palestinian public opinion fall on the two-state question, and what deeper insights does the data hold?Khalil Shikaki is the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah and a senior fellow with the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.David Pollock is the Bernstein Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of Project Fikra. Previously, he served as senior advisor for the broader Middle East at the U.S. State Department.Tamar Hermann is a senior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and academic director of the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research.Audio clips from AP “Peace Agreement Signing In Washington (A)” i24News “20 Years Since the Outbreak of the Second Intifada”See for privacy and opt-out information.