In a speech on how Israel plans to “retool” its strategy against the Iranian threat, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stressed Tuesday that Israel will continue to maintain its freedom to act against Iran even if the United States returns to the 2015 Iran deal.
While present at Reichman University’s Institute for Policy and Strategy, Bennett said, “Israel’s confrontation with Iran is really the whole world’s fight against an extremist regime that seeks Shiite hegemony under a nuclear umbrella. We hope the world will not ignore it, but even if they did.” We won’t do that.”
Bennett explained that the current period is “complicated”, because Israel differs with its largest ally on some issues.
It is noteworthy that the United States and Iran are scheduled to return to indirect negotiations in Vienna next week regarding a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which would lead to Washington lifting sanctions while imposing restrictions on Tehran’s ability to enrich uranium.
“Even if there is a return to an agreement ‘with Iran,’ Israel is not a party to it – and is not bound by it,” Bennett declared.
Bennett stated that the JCPOA acted as a “sleeping pill” for the Israeli defense establishment after 2015, as it reduced Israel’s willingness to take measures.
“We will not repeat the mistakes of last time when we put the deal into hibernation, we will maintain our ability to act freely,” he added.
In his speech, Bennett referred to Iran’s proxies surrounding Israel, from Shiite militias in Syria, to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
He said, “In addition to its progress in its nuclear program, Iran has constantly surrounded Israel, by arming militias and stationing missiles on every side. It has become possible to see Iran from every window in Israel.”
An Iranian nuclear reactor (archive – AFP)
And he added that Iran “annoys us from outside the country, drains our energy, chases us, causes us harm, and it does it all from afar.”
He said that “chasing the terrorist sent by the Quds Force every time no longer makes sense, we have to get to the person who sends them.”
Bennett stressed, “Israel should leverage its relative strength — its strong economy, cyber-leader, and international legitimacy — against Iran’s weaknesses more effectively than it has in the past. He also said that Iran is “eroding” and is weaker than he believes Many Israelis, referring to protests in areas where there is not enough water.
Bennett continued, “Our challenges have transformed Israel into what it is today; we are ready to meet this challenge as well. Israel must maintain its freedom of action and the ability to act, in any situation and any political circumstance.”
For his part, former Mossad director Tamir Pardo said at the same conference that Bennett had no strategy regarding Iran.
“The question is whether Israel has a strategy regarding Iran, I think Israel still lacks a strategy. But it seems to me that the current trend is to return Israel to what it was before,” Pardo said, referring to the similarities between the previous government. And Bennett’s speech.
It is noteworthy that Pardo was a vocal critic of the policy of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which called for an outspoken criticism of the 2015 nuclear deal sponsored by the United States, and the Biden administration’s plan to return to that agreement.
In contrast, the former Mossad chief said that despite all the loopholes in the agreement, there are advantages to the agreement as well, and that we should not publicly argue with the United States about political differences related to Iran.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in front of the Bushehr nuclear reactor (archive – AFP)
He said Israel should work quietly behind the scenes to persuade Washington to improve the deal.
“Can we threaten war all day long?” Pardo said. “There is no one better than Israel in carrying out a single targeted strike,” he added.
Pardo said Iran was “not like Operation Opera,” referring to the code name of the attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, and also said that “only the United States knows how” to attack Iran’s many nuclear facilities.
The main nuclear facilities targeted in Iraq and Syria were all foreign facilities, and these two countries had a near-zero capacity to rebuild on their own.
Despite Pardo’s criticism, others on the committee had a different view.
Former IDF Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said that the JCPOA had been fruitful in its early years, but would have become problematic as its expiration approached in 2030. A US withdrawal from the agreement and the threat of a “maximum pressure” campaign would have been Things that would make sense if they happened in 2028.
Former National Security Council Chairman Yaakov Amidror has fully defended Netanyahu and praised the Trump administration for abandoning the deal.
Amidror’s criticism of the Trump administration was for its lack of willingness to use the threat of military force to get Iran to make nuclear concessions.
White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk spoke at the conference via video link.
McGurk said that drones are a major problem that the United States discusses with Israel and other allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia.
McGurk also opposed the notion that sanctions would prevent Iran from continuing its aggressive behavior.
He emphasized: “Sanctions are effective on some level, but they are ineffective in solving this problem. What is effective is strengthening our allies…and working to improve the state’s capacity and defense capacity.”