Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.
Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.
- Netanyahu's stance was criticized at the time by many in the Israeli defense establishment as being counterproductive.
Driving the news: Senior Israeli national security officials will descend on Washington next week for talks on Iran. They include national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Aviv Kochavi, military intelligence chief Tamir Hayman and Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
- Netanyahu convened a meeting on Thursday with those officials, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the policies that will be presented in Washington.
- The decision at the end of the meeting was to stress that a return to the deal would put Israel in danger, and to otherwise decline to discuss the talks in Vienna, an Israeli official said.
- During the meeting on Thursday, Netanyahu stressed that Israel is not a party to the nuclear deal and is therefore not bound by it in any way.
- Netanyahu said Israel will act only according to its national security interests, but will maintain its freedom of operation against Iran in the region.
What’s next: Netanyahu, Gantz and Ashkenazi decided that Israel would be willing to discuss the parameters of a “longer and stronger” nuclear deal in the future, if the U.S. and other world powers decide to go in that direction, per Israeli officials.