NYT Report: Israel Consulted With U.S. Before Attacking Iranian Sites

YERUSHALAYIM -
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes Defense Minister Benny Gantz during an enhanced honor cordon arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, Thursday. (REUTERS/Ken Cedeno)

Israeli officials consulted with the U.S. on two separate occasions before launching covert strikes against Iranian facilities, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The report cited Israeli and U.S. officials briefed on the inner workings of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s and President Joe Biden’s respective governments.

It is understood that one of the attacks was against the centrifuge production facility in Karaj, and another against an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps missile plant on the outskirts of Tehran.

Overall, officials in Biden’s administrations are finding that Israel under Bennett is much more transparent and cooperative than was the case under his predecessor Binyamin Netanyahu.

There are, however, very real differences between Israelis and Americans on whether diplomatic engagement with Iran is worth pursuing; despite the many bumps in the talks between Iran and Western powers held in the Austrian capital of Vienna, Biden wishes to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which Israel believes to be inadequate to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

According to the report, the worry in Yerushalayim is that the U.S. will eventually reach a deal with the Islamic Republic, and then seek to block the Mossad spy agency from carrying out covert sabotage attacks.

Israel thus seeks a guarantee from the Biden administration that at no point will Washington try to restrain Israel’s sabotage campaign, even in the unlikely event that a renewed nuclear deal is reached.

In an attempt to iron out differences between the two countries, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad chief David Barnea arrived in Washington earlier this week to share new intelligence with U.S. officials and to find common ground.

In the meeting, Israeli officials tried to persuade Washington to tighten sanctions on Iran rather than work towards a nuclear agreement.

During the meeting, Gantz warned the Americans that Iran’s advances are bringing it to the nuclear threshold, and the only way to attain a better deal is to put as much pressure as possible on the regime.

Ahead of his trip, Gantz spoke to Israeli media sources, saying that Israel must “do everything it can” in order to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability.

“We need to prepare ourselves for any possibility in order to defend the State of Israel. We are developing capabilities and we need to continue to strengthen them,” Gantz said.