Continued from page 1

Mr. Scowcroft, national security adviser to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, said he keeps in touch with James L. Jones, the current national security adviser, as well as Mr. Gates.

Mr. Scowcroft praised the Obama administration’s diplomatic engagement with Iran and said a meeting with Iran in Geneva last week that ended with some tentative Iranian compromises on the country’s nuclear program was “as good as these meetings ever get.”

He said the U.S. should tell Israel not to attack Iran’s nuclear sites something, he suggested, the previous administration had done because of the adverse effects an attack would have on regional stability.

“I think we should make it clear to the Israelis that this is not something we would be comfortable with,” he said. “I think the administration has made it abundantly clear, as has the previous administration, that unilateral military action would not be appreciated.”

Amid the praise for U.S. policy, Mr. Scowcroft was most critical of Mr. Obama’s efforts toward Arab-Israeli peace.

Rather than spending months trying to get Israel to freeze its construction of settlements on the West Bank and to get the Arab states to make gestures toward Israel, he said, the United States, Europe and Russia should table a plan to jump-start negotiations on creating a Palestinian state.

“I think it’s time for a different role; the focus on settlements on the Israeli side and improving contacts on the Arab side, overflight rights and so on, is going for the capillaries at a time when that cannot produce good results,” he said. “I have felt for some time that the two sides are unlikely in the foreseeable future to be able on their own to make the compromises necessary.”