Netanyahu bristles in warning as Biden seeks reentry to Iran deal

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By Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor |

IslamNews – The Israeli well-known journalist and analyst Ben Caspit wrote in al-Monitor an analysis in which he said the United States is not the only one preparing for the resumption of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. Israel, too, appears set to restore the historic drama to the world stage almost six years after it peaked with the signing of the deal with Iran and largely dropped from the agenda. Now, with the Joe Biden administration intending to enter into negotiations with Tehran as soon as possible and given reports reaching Jerusalem that some of the new president’s people believe the United States should first return to the original accord and only then discuss “amendments” or “improvements,” drama is unfolding behind the scenes in Israel.

Israel’s former national security adviser, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, framed the issue in clear terms in Jan. 18 comments at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. “In a situation where the United States returns to the old nuclear agreement with Iran, Israel will have no choice but to act military against Iran to prevent it from manufacturing a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Is history repeating itself? Probably, but the circumstances are quite different. In the past, the heads of Israel’s defense and security agencies opposed a military strike on Iran. At the time, military chiefs Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz, late Mossad head Meir Dagan and his successor Tamir Pardo, the military intelligence, air force commanders and the Shin Bet domestic security agency issued stern warnings against embarking on such an adventure. The political leaders, Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak, debated and deliberated until the opportunity had passed.

According to Gantz and Ashkenazi’s associates, the correct way to go about the issue with the new administration is to immediately convene a team of professionals to work with the Americans, creating a sincere and in-depth dialogue and trying to bridge the gaps between Jerusalem and Washington. These associates argue that taking the opposite tack by explicitly threatening a military strike would only spur the Americans into a hasty return to the previous agreement with Iran in order to preclude unilateral Israeli military action. “That could be a mistake that would haunt us for generations,” the senior Israeli diplomatic source told Al-Monitor.

Against this backdrop, the upcoming March elections will be crucial not only in terms of Netanyahu’s fate and his trial on corruption charges, but also regarding Israel’s role in the renewed contacts with Iran. A Netanyahu victory would renew conflict between the Washington and Jerusalem, this time on steroids. Netanyahu’s replacement after 12 years in office would signal a new era of dialogue and dispute resolution and a return to the way things were.

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