Is Israel’s Opposition To A New Nuclear Deal With Iran Sincere?

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Is Israel’s Opposition To A New Nuclear Deal With Iran Sincere?

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited himself to a security meeting with Israeli Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid last month to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Afterwards, he said that Lapid and Defense Secretary Benny Gantz had failed to fulfill their responsibility for preventing another nuclear deal with Iran. According to Netanyahu, Israeli officials should have done the same as they did before the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 and met with influential US congressmen, senior US officials and prominent mass media figures.

“Netanyahu taught us exactly what not to do,” an Israeli government official said. “In 2015, he went to Congress, spoke to senior government officials and the media, and we had the nuclear deal shoved in our face.” This time he added: “We worked quietly. We put in a lot of effort and achieved the opposite result.”

Israeli officials have said several times that a deal between Tehran and world powers over Iran’s nuclear program is off the table for the foreseeable future. However, several reports have recently emerged suggesting a deal is possible. Last week, the US State Department rejected claims by Israeli officials that Washington had given up talks with Tehran.

“We are and will continue to strive for a mutual return to the full implementation of the JCPOA,” said a statement attributed to a spokesman for the United States Department of State. This was, said the Times of Israela response to an Israeli official who said: “The Americans and most Europeans say there is no [new] JCPOA.”

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READ: Western powers seek unity against Iran at IAEA, but no solution

Netanyahu, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Lapid, Mossad officials and many others on the Israeli political and security spectrum do not share the same view on Iran’s nuclear program and the efforts of the world powers to reach a deal with Tehran. However, those who oppose the accord are not opposed to it in the same way or for the same reason.

“Neither Prime Minister Yair Lapid nor his predecessor, Naftali Bennett, is as vehemently opposed to a nuclear deal as Benjamin Netanyahu,” wrote Ronen Bergman of the New York Times two months ago. He even added: “Senior members of Israel’s defense and intelligence services say a new agreement along the lines of [the JCPOA]” would be in Israel’s “best interest”.

Why are there obvious differences between Israeli political, military, security and intelligence agencies regarding Iran’s nuclear program? I think the election campaigns have a lot to do with it, as it appeals to the electorate to get votes. Everyone wants to be seen as “the strong man of Israel” (or woman) in the face of perceived existential threats. This is important because the politicians compete for positions in the Israeli hierarchy and are able to make important decisions to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Israel – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

It is interesting to note that in the run-up to the January 2013 general election in Israel, the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef advised politicians not to name Iran as an enemy. He acknowledged that those, including Netanyahu, who were pushing Israel to the brink of war with Iran at the time, were doing so for electoral reasons. To illustrate his point, he told them that they could not succeed in deterring the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, so how did they intend to deter Iran?

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Another factor to consider is Israeli officials’ efforts to end the isolation of the occupation state. Israel has been in the Middle East for over 70 years and yet it still feels like an alien presence. It is true that most Arab regimes are friends of Israel, but everyone – including Israelis – knows that this “friendship” does not reflect the sentiments of the masses, who still see Israel as the enemy.

Therefore, it seems that Israel is creating a fake enemy and exaggerating the threat to rally its friends around it. The occupying state is trying to mobilize the Arab states by claiming that an Iranian nuclear bomb is as much a real threat to them as it is to Israel. The so-called Abraham Accords should be seen in this context. Such tactics also arouse sympathy and support in the US and the West in general.

Israel has destroyed alleged nuclear facilities in two different regional countries in the past, and neither Iraq in 1981 nor Syria in 2007 responded with even a single bullet. Why is Israel so afraid of Iran and how it might react?

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What no one mentions is that Israel has at least 90 nuclear warheads, with the capacity to build 200, and yet it fears Iran will get one atomic bomb. This is a paradox that makes clear that Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program are false.

READ: Germany regrets saying Iran has yet to accept nuclear offer

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror, who is now a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, was the first to raise the issue of Iran’s nuclear program in the early 1990s. He still believes the solution to this is to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. “I see no other way than to bomb them,” he told the… TBEN last year, but the Israeli government has not taken such a step.

In addition, a former head of the investigation of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, Sima Shine, told the… TBEN“I hope the diplomatic channel will succeed.” Mossad insists on the military option to end Iran’s nuclear program, yet a former senior official insists that diplomacy succeed.

This gives us a glimpse of the baseless nature of Israel’s hostility to Iran. Add this to my belief that the Iranian regime is working for American interests, and it is clear that it cannot be an enemy of Israel, as both proxies work for the same bosses in Washington.

The views expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect Middle East Monitor’s editorial policy.

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