Flareup with Netanyahu Over Iran as Bennett Prepares to Meet Biden

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

As Prime Minister Naftali Bennett prepares for his meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington on Thursday, where he intends to make his plan to deal with Iran the centerpiece, a flareup developed over how the previous Israeli government handled the issue.

“We inherited an Iran that is working extremely aggressively and is empowering very negative forces in the region,” a senior diplomatic source was quoted as saying by Israeli media.

“After all the statements and rhetoric, Iran is at the most advanced point of its nuclear program. There was a disconnect between the rhetoric and the test of the result,” the source said.

That prompted an angry eruption from Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which said that Bennett himself “lauded [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s major actions on Iran.”

It said that Netanyahu “led the global fight against the dangerous nuclear deal, while all world powers ran toward it.”

Bennett reportedly has conducted a comprehensive view of Iran policy ahead of the trip, which will inform the presentation he’ll make to Biden.

“When we began to plan the visit, a return to the agreement seemed certain. Since then, time has passed, the president in Iran has changed, and things seem far less certain. In our view, it may be that there is no return to the agreement,” the source explained. “There is no value to returning to the nuclear deal.”

When asked about the similarity between Bennett’s current position and that of Netanyahu’s, the source asserted that Bennett is going beyond rhetoric and has a plan of action.

The plan addresses two possibilities: How to handle the Iranian threat if the JCPOA is not revived, and the less-likely scenario, a return to the Iran deal. It offers specific short term and long-term actions for either outcome.

“The plan isn’t just about nuclear weapons. That was the problem with the JCPOA,” the diplomatic source explained. “It also addresses regional aggression, because Iran is in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Gaza, and at sea and on UAVs. They’re not just our problem, they’re the region’s and the world’s.”