As a Democrat comes at the helm of affairs at the Oval Office, the US-Israel ties are on the decline yet again. The new US President Joe Biden wants to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, 2015 or what is more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. But Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can’t trust Tehran and therefore he is at loggerheads with Biden over this issue.
Benjamin Netanyahu has actually gone as far as giving a stern warning to the US President on the Iran front. The Israeli PM is making it clear that he won’t clash with Biden, but only as long as the US President doesn’t try to reinvigorate the Iran Nuclear Deal. Otherwise, Israelis seem to have envisaged strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, if Biden actually decides to go ahead with the deal.
As per Axios, a senior Israeli official close to Netanyahu disclosed that while the Israeli PM wants to begin things with a stance of cooperation and coordination with the Biden administration, he would remain firm on the issue of opposing an American return to the Iran Nuclear Deal.
The official said, “He doesn’t want to tweak it. He thinks the agreement is flawed to its foundations and that the Iranians will agree to compromise only if pressure continues.”
In fact, Israel’s political and military establishments are rallying behind Netanyahu and deterring Biden from rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, 2015. On Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Aviv Kohavi, too spoke up against the US return to the Iran Nuclear Deal or even “a deal with cosmetic changes.”
Kohavi disclosed that he has ordered the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to prepare several new strike plans for striking Iran’s nuclear facilities should the political leaders decide to take that route. So, the message is clear- the moment Biden decides to rejoin the Iran Nuclear deal, the Israelis could come out all guns blazing against Iran, quite literally.
When Obama had held secret talks with the Iranians in 2015, while keeping Israel in the dark, the then IDF leader Gadi Eizenkot hadn’t opposed the deal. Kohavi, then chief of military intelligence, himself had thought that the deal would bring strategic advantages for the Jewish nation.
But five years hence, Israelis have realised the futility of Obama’s initiative. They have realised how Iran was trying to fool everyone, and how Trump did the right thing by calling Iran’s bluff while withdrawing the US from the flawed deal. And then, Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy weakened Iran politically, militarily and economically.
Netanyahu remains grateful towards Trump for the Abraham Accords that brought the Arabs and Jews together. But the Israeli PM remains just as grateful towards the former US President for literally destroying the Iranian nuclear threat that tended to loom large over Israel. However, as soon as Biden came to power, Israel’s strategic circles got concerned if Biden would bring back the Obama era.
Now, the Netanyahu administration in Israel doesn’t want Biden to do what Obama had done. So, the Israeli military has virtually started preparing for war, just in case, Biden repeats Obama’s blunder of sidelining Israel and warming up to Tehran. Within Israel, any perceived bonhomie between the US and Iran will be a major security threat and therefore the IDF should stay prepared.
The plans to strike Iranian nuclear facilities are also a message to the Biden administration. The Netanyahu government is telling the new US President that it is serious about taking matters in its own hands and taking the military option against Tehran if Biden backstabs Israel.
Keeping Israel out of the loop would invite some serious repercussions in the Middle East. It would be simply too unpleasant a sight for the Biden administration if it is found extending the olive branch to Tehran while Israel, a US ally, looks to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.
Biden himself seems uncomfortable with Netanyahu’s warning. The Biden administration has tried to soothe Israelis at different levels and there is an attempt to convince Netanyahu that Biden won’t go ahead with the Iran Nuclear Deal without consulting Israel. The US President is treading cautiously and is yet to call the Israeli PM. Biden is taking his time because things can spiral out of Biden’s control quite easily at this juncture.
Israel has been backstabbed by a Democrat President once. But it won’t let another Democrat do the same. Biden stands warned, even as Netanyahu has a tough message for the US President to keep him away from the Iran Nuclear Deal.