Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Foreign Policy The American newspaper, Wednesday, September 15, 2021, said that Israel is ready to accept a return to the nuclear agreement that the United States is negotiating with Iran, but Israeli officials will also pressure Washington to prepare a “serious show of force” in the event that negotiations with Tehran fail, and this appears to be a new shift. in Israeli politics.
During the leadership of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv strongly opposed the 2015 nuclear deal and worked to undermine it.
Tel Aviv’s position changed
In the exclusive interview with the American magazine, Benny Gantz responded to a question about the Biden administration’s efforts to return to an agreement with Iran, saying that “the current American approach of re-containing the Iranian nuclear program will be accepted.”
He also added that Israel wanted to see a “viable US-led Plan B” that would include broad economic pressure on Iran in the event the talks fail. He indicated that Israel’s “Plan C” would involve military action.
While Gantz estimated that Iran was about two or three months away from having the materials and capabilities needed to produce a nuclear bomb, Iran has continued to escalate its nuclear activities since the United States withdrew from the agreement, despite the alleged maximum pressure campaign launched by Trump and Netanyahu, which included sanctions and sabotage attempts. .
On the same occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett criticized Netanyahu on this very point, on Tuesday, September 14, and said in a statement to Israeli Channel 12: “Israel inherited a situation in which Iran reached its most advanced stage in its race to produce a bomb. The gap between Netanyahu’s speech, words and actions are very significant.”
Back-up plan against Tehran
Gantz questioned the chances of diplomacy succeeding in undermining Iran’s progress. He outlined what Israel considers a “viable” back-up plan: political, diplomatic, and economic pressures imposed on Tehran by the United States, Europe, Russia and China, in particular.
“We have to tie China to this as well,” Gantz says, referring to the main trade links between Iran and Asian countries, and saying, “Israel has no ability to lead a real back-up plan, and we can’t set up an international economic sanctions regime. The United States must lead this.”
He also stresses that: “It is essential that Iran fear the seriousness of the United States and its partners.”
At the same time, the Israeli military is preparing its own measures to halt Iran’s nuclear advance. “And when he finds the grandfather, we will move,” Gantz said, emphasizing this point by switching from Hebrew to English. “We are not America, but we have our capabilities,” he said.
A pledge from Israel to Biden
That was on Sunday, August 29, 2021, when the American news website Axios reported that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pledged, during his meeting with US President Joe Biden, on Friday, not to publicly criticize the Iranian nuclear agreement.
The American website quoted two well-informed American sources as saying that Bennett repeated this message during his meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
They added that Bennett said he believed the dialogue between the United States and Israel would produce better results.
In contrast, a senior Israeli official who attended the meeting said, “Prime Minister Bennett told President Biden that regardless of political differences, he wants to act according to the rules of honesty and decency.”
This comes years after former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers.
Netanyahu exchanged statements with former President Barack Obama against the backdrop of a campaign launched by the former Israeli prime minister against the nuclear agreement, including a famous speech before the US Congress.