Has opposition to the new JCPOA united Israel’s body politic?
“I call on @POTUS Biden & the US administration to refrain, even now at this last minute, from signing the agreement with Iran,” former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett posted to Twitter on August 23, 2022.
“This agreement will send approximately a quarter of a trillion dollars to the Iranian terror administration’s pocket and to its regional proxies, and will enable Iran to develop, install and operate centrifuges, with almost no restrictions, in a mere two years,” Mr. Bennett continued. “Throughout the past year, even when it was very close, we successfully convinced our White House counterparts not to give in to Iranian demands.”
“I hope this will remain the case,” Bennett tweeted. “One way or another, the State of Israel is not a party to the agreement. Israel is not committed to any of the restrictions stemming from the agreement and will utilize all available tools to prevent the Iranian program from advancing.”
“I just spoke to my friend, President @EmmanuelMacron,” posted Israel’s current Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, to Twitter on August 22, 2022. “We discussed the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran cannot be allowed to endlessly buy time and receive more concessions while it advances its nuclear program and spreads terror worldwide.”
“Today I held a briefing for senior international reporters: Israel is not against any agreement,” Mr. Lapid followed up on August 24, 2022. “We are against this agreement, because it is a bad agreement. Because it is impossible to accept it as it is written now. In our view, he does not meet the standards that President Biden has set: to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”
“We conduct an open dialogue with the American government on all the issues in dispute,” Lapid tweeted on August 24, 2022. “I appreciate their willingness to listen and work together- the US was and remains our closest ally and President Biden is one of the best friends Israel has had for a long time.”
“We will act in every way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” PM Lapid tweeted on August 25. “I held an intelligence briefing today with the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, who was dealing with an update on the current security issues on the table, primarily the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
“The Israeli government is ramping up pressure on the Biden administration to walk away from international efforts to revive the nuclear Iran deal,” reported Nahal Toosi for Politico on August 23, 2022. “But the White House isn’t budging.”
“National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin ‘Benny’ Gantz on August 26 at the White House to continue consultations on security issues of mutual concern,” said the White House in a statement released August 26, 2022.
“Sullivan emphasized President Biden’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and the two exchanged views on ways to deepen the U.S.-Israel security partnership, including via regional cooperation and coordination,” the White House continued. “They discussed U.S. commitment to ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon, and the need to counter threats from Iran and Iran-based proxies. They also discussed the need to ensure equal measures of security, freedom, and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and the importance of ongoing follow-through on initiatives announced during President Biden’s trip to Israel.”
“I commit: With or without an agreement- I will do everything to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” tweeted Israel’s former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on August 24, 2022.
“We’ve said all along that if Iran were prepared to re-enter the JCPOA and if it were willing to drop the demands that are extraneous to the JCPOA, that is to say the demands that Iran previously put forward that have nothing to do with the Iran deal, then we would be prepared on a mutual basis to re-enter the Iran deal,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told CNN on Wednesday.
“We’re closer today, but we’re still not there,” Price cautioned.
“Israel’s Unified Opposition to Iran Deal is Not What It Seems,” reported Amos Harel for Haaretz on August 26, 2022. “Lapid, Gantz and Netanyahu seem to be competing in making the most apocalyptic threats over a return to the Iran deal. But some expert opinions beg to differ.”
“In recent days a light panic spread in Jerusalem as the news reports came in on the Biden administration’s intention to join a new nuclear agreement between the powers and Iran,” wrote Harel.
“The truth is, the official declarations don’t reflect the full spectrum of opinions held by experts and the political leaders,” Harel continued. “A long, substantive debate has been taking place both in the government and among defense officials. No one is enamored by the new agreement and its many flaws and loopholes. The consensus is that if it’s signed, it will put Israel in a worse position than in 2015, which wasn’t terrific.”
“Still, there’s a continuum of views here that can be divided into two camps,” contends Harel. “The first maintains that the agreement is bad for Israel so Washington needs to be persuaded to strengthen it or at least to delay the signing.”
“The second sees the signing as the lesser evil,” Harel continued. “Under the current circumstances, it’s better for the United States to sign the deal, halt Iran’s progress toward a bomb, and then wait for Tehran to make a mistake.”
“The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid told reporters on Wednesday.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)