October 6, 2022

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Israel’s Lapid benefits from pause in Iran talks

TEHRAN – In a commentary on September 9, Al-Monitor said the buzz is that an Iran nuclear deal may be deferred until the November elections in both Israel and the United States and whether a return to deal matters more in Tel Aviv than Washington.

In the United States, no one will be switching their votes based on whether there is an Iran deal or not, given that the economy is top of mind for most Americans. President Joe Biden can expect all Republicans, some Democrats and others to slam him for signing a deal. In any case, Congress likely can’t stop it if it happens.

In Israel, Iran packs more political punch.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid hopes to survive Israel’s fifth election in less than three years. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running to Lapid’s far right and the latest polls indicate the Likud leader may already have 59-60 Knesset seats in his column, just one or two shy of a majority.  

If Lapid loses on Iran in time, Netanyahu would further weaponize the issue ahead of the elections.    

In policy terms, there is little daylight between the Lapid and Netanyahu positions on Iran. But Lapid, unlike Netanyahu, has kept U.S.-Israel relations on a steady course despite stark differences with Washington over Iran and despite disagreements with Mossad chief David Barnea over how best to manage the file. 

Lapid has capitalized on the deadlock in the Iran nuclear talks over the Iranian conditions that unsubstantiated claims over Iran’s nuclear activities by the IAEA, which are fed by Israel, should come to an end and that Washington should give guarantees that it would not renege on the deal once again.   

Barnea started a tour of Washington on September 6 to hold a series of meetings with top officials from the White House, CIA Director William Burns, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon and the State Department to try to halt the impending Iran nuclear deal, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Lapid is maintaining his direct line to Biden, telling the U.S. president just in recent days that Israel will have “full discretion” to deal with what he called the Iranian nuclear threat.   

Biden, however, does not appear to be holding up the deal because of Israel, as the negotiations are deadlocked over Iranian conditions. The best Lapid can get — and he’s got it for now — is a hold. Iran could turn the tables at any time by accepting the deal. 

The Biden administration, while officially staying out of Israeli politics, would likely prefer Lapid to hold on as prime minister to avoid the likely drama and difficulty of dealing with a Netanyahu-led far-right coalition government on both Iran and the Palestinian issue.

Tel Aviv has created a commotion over Iran’s nuclear program since the early 2000s. However, contrary to Israel, Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its nuclear activities are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel has about 90 nuclear weapons. The regime is also believed to possess the ability to deliver them in several methods, including by aircraft, submarine-launched cruise missiles, and via the Jericho series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic missiles.

Israel has also opposed the United Nations’ push for “establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East”.

Iran has been saying that the IAEA is being influenced by the bogus intelligence provided by Israel and asked the UN body to adopt a purely technical approach toward Tehran’s nuclear program. 

Netanyahu was one of the chief culprits who provoked Donald Trump to quit the nuclear deal in May 2018 and slap the harshest sanctions on Iran.

Analysts believe that Israel’s strong opposition to the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal – JCPOA – is intended to ignite a war between the U.S. and Iran.


Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/476726/Israel-s-Lapid-benefits-from-pause-in-Iran-talks

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