Israel calls on the West to abandon negotiations with Iran


Western powers must “stop” negotiating because a deal would allow Iran to earn “billions” of dollars and “destabilize” the Middle East, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday.

Visit to Washington, calls to Macron, invitations to the international press: Israel is launching a “last-minute” attack to try to persuade the West not to renew the deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

Western powers must “stop” negotiating because a deal would allow Iran to earn “billions” of dollars and “destabilize” the Middle East, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday.

Lapid, in the midst of campaigning for Israel’s Nov. 1 parliamentary elections, sent his national security adviser to Washington this week. And Defense Secretary Benny Gantz is flying early Thursday morning to the US capital to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, among other things, his teams told AFP.

Iran’s No. 1 enemy, Israel had welcomed Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, but fears these days a renewal of the agreement at a time when negotiations appear to be accelerating.

Washington said this week that Tehran was making concessions. And today the US confirmed it had sent the European Union its response to a plan aimed at reviving the 2015 deal.

According to a senior US official, Iran is no longer blocking some inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) while earlier demanding that the UN agency stop its investigation of undeclared sites or traces of enriched uranium that had been found.

Tehran also abandoned another demand, related to the removal of the designation as a “terrorist” organization of the Revolutionary Guards, its ideological army.

Still, Israel continues to oppose renewing the deal, especially if it means lifting economic sanctions against Tehran.

“What is on the table right now is a bad deal. This will give $100 billion a year to Iran. This money will not be used to build schools or hospitals but will be used to destabilize the Middle East by strengthening Hezbollah, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Lapid said without explaining what that figure was based on.

“In our opinion the agreement does not meet the criteria set by President Biden himself: to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” the prime minister said at a meeting with foreign press in Jerusalem. A senior Israeli official faulted the draft agreement for not providing for the destruction of the concentration devices and thus allowing Tehran to “reactivate” them when it sees fit.

For opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Lapid’s main opponent in the upcoming parliamentary elections, this deal “allows Iran to take everything and give nothing.” Speaking at a press conference, the former prime minister said on the Iranian issue, “there is no difference between the right and the left.”

In recent days, Lapid has called on French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz not to sign a deal with Tehran.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a hardliner against Tehran, on Tuesday called on US President Joe Biden to “refrain, even at this last minute, from signing an agreement with Iran”.


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