Another Bad Iran Deal Seems to Be on Its Way. How Should Israel React?

This week, indirect talks between Washington and Tehran resumed in Vienna, and the Israeli government might soon find itself reliving the situation of 2014 and 2015: with its most important ally poised to make a dangerous agreement with its most dangerous enemy. Elliott Abrams suggests how Jerusalem might best respond:

First, let’s be clear on what constitutes the danger. It is that the United States will agree to what’s called a “less for less” agreement. . . . Instead of the “maximum pressure” campaign the Trump administration had underway, in “less for less” the United States would release certain sanctions—for example, allowing Iran to collect about $7 billion it has in frozen accounts in South Korea—if Iran made certain moves, such as halting enrichment of uranium above a low percentage and exporting the uranium it has already enriched above that percentage.

How should Israel react? First, it should do just what it is doing now: explain patiently, forcefully, and diplomatically why such an agreement is dangerous. This does not require attacks on President Biden nor any moves that would give rise to accusations of partisan intervention in U.S. politics, but Israel’s unhappiness with and disapproval of the kind of deal that is likely—if there is any agreement at all—should be very clear in public and in private.

Second, Israel should be very clear that it will not consider itself bound by such an agreement. It has said exactly that, retaining the right to act to protect itself against Iranian progress toward building a nuclear weapon regardless of the American position or any deal with Iran. This is precisely what Prime Minister Naftali Bennett did on January 10.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Naftali Bennett, US-Israel relations

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship