The Mossad and the Prime Minister of Israel are not at odds over the issue of Iran sanctions, according to a rare public statement issued on Thursday by intelligence chief Tamir Pardo.
The statement — on behalf of Pardo but released by the Prime Minister’s Office — denied a report in Bloomberg which said that Pardo had told U.S. senators he was against further sanctions.
The Mossad director did acknowledge that he had met with the senatorial delegation on January 19, but that he did so with the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“Contrary to what has been reported, the Head of the Mossad did not say that he opposes imposing additional sanctions on Iran, “ read the statement. Rather, “the Head of the Mossad emphasized in the meeting that the exceptional effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years are what brought Iran to the negotiating table.”
“The Head of the Mossad noted that in negotiating with Iran, it is essential to present both carrots and sticks and that the latter are currently lacking. The Head of the Mossad noted further that in the absence of strong pressure, the Iranians will make no meaningful compromises.”
The PMO statement specifically addressed a quote attributed to Pardo, telling Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday night that further sanctions would be like “throwing a grenade into the fire,” which it maintained was taken out of context.
The Mossad chief “used this expression as a metaphor to describe the possibility of creating a temporary crisis in the negotiations, at the end of which talks would resume under improved conditions.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials claimed to Army Radio on Thursday that the Bloomberg report was politically motivated, calling it “the Obama administration’s revenge” for Netanyahu’s acceptance of the Republican-controlled Congress’ invitation to address a joint session without consulting the White House.
Deputy foreign minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a Netanyahu ally, told Army Radio that the invitation to Netanyahu was an attempt by the Republicans to embarrass Obama.
“There’s tremendous tension between Congress and the administration, and that’s nothing new,” Hanegbi said. “The new Congress was elected just a few weeks ago. There’s been a change in control.”
“Now the Republicans are the majority,” Hanegbi told Army Radio. “They’re happy about this, and they will look to be a thorn in the president’s side in the remaining two years of his term, while the president will ignore them and continue to implement the policy in which he believes as much as he can.”
“Israel has no interest in being involved in these matters,” Hanegbi said.