On the eve of a planned visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the US, sources revealed that the Israeli military and intelligence brass are odds with him over the nuclear deal with Iran.
The sources said that mainly the premier and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have differences over whether to urge Washington to scrap the nuclear deal.
Netanyahu wants the deal between world powers and Iran to be amended or canceled.
Israeli officials said Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer are encouraging Trump and his close aids not to re-certify the agreement and announce that Iran is breaching it.
Trump will meet with Netanyahu on Monday for talks focused on Iran on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Netanyahu and Dermer are pushing the White House to decertify the nuclear agreement,” an Israeli official said. “As far as Netanyahu is concerned, it’s the most important thing Trump can do, and he hopes that as a result Congress will resume the sanctions against Iran.”
After Reuters news agency cited senior US officials as saying this week that Israel wasn’t interested in the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and objected to revoking it, Netanyahu was quick to deny it. The premier said Israel has an interest in seeing the Trump administration “fix the agreement or revoke it.”
A day later, Lieberman said he supported Netanyahu’s position. “The agreement isn’t delaying Iran’s nuclear program even by one day, they are clever enough not to break it off.”
“The agreement isn’t holding them back or preventing them from continuing to research and develop centrifuges. It isn’t preventing them from continuing with missiles and warheads and checking accuracy and distances. The Iranians have refused to let anyone check the military program sites,” he said.
While the Israeli PM and defense minister are aspiring to see Trump take action that would lead to Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement, the senior ranks of the Israeli security establishment and intelligence community believe that even though the agreement is bad for Israel, an American pullout would be even worse.
They also think that if the US withdraws from the deal, other world powers will not follow through, and thus Iran will not become isolated nor face new international sanctions.