Amidst ongoing Middle East instability behind which stands Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was appalled that the Biden Administration would again try to appease the ayatollahs in Tehran.
The Americans reported on Thursday that they had reached a tentative deal under which Iran would free a handful of jailed US citizens in exchange for Washington unfreezing billions of dollars in Iranian assets.
Netanyahu on Saturday said this was yet another mistake by the White House that would further fuel conflict in the region.
“Israel’s position is known, according to which arrangements that do not dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will not stop its nuclear program and will only provide it with funds that will go to terrorist elements sponsored by Iran,” read a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Biden Administration officials claim the deal comes against the backdrop of Iran slowing its defiant uranium enrichment program. But Tehran denies that claim. The Americans also said the $6-$7 billion in frozen assets that will soon be transferred will be closely controlled so that the money is only used for humanitarian purposes. Iran also denied that claim, saying it would have full control of the funds to use for whatever purposes it decides.
In a meeting with visiting US Democratic lawmakers earlier last week, Netanyahu again stressed that Israel would do whatever necessary to protect itself from the Iranian threat, with or without American assistance.
See related: ‘We Must Attack Iran Now,’ Insists Israeli Lawmaker
Bibi going to the White House
Senior US officials reportedly told Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper that President Joe Biden will invite Netanyahu to the White House in September, when the Israeli leader is scheduled to be in New York City to address the UN General Assembly.
Biden’s failure to invite Netanyahu until now has added to growing tension between Jerusalem and Washington. There was speculation that even now Biden wouldn’t invite Bibi to the White House, but rather meet with him on the sidelines of the UN gathering. But officials hinted to the Israeli media that this would be seen as one insult too many, and that Netanyahu will be called to Washington next month.
Mid-September is also the timing of the money transfer to Iran, so the topic will no doubt dominate talks between Biden and Netanyahu.
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