The Obama Administration on Wednesday suggested that the Israeli government was being less than honest regarding the details of negotiations between the US and Iran regarding the latter’s defiant nuclear program.
But a senior and respected Israeli politician said the White House is risking Israel’s future for the sake of its own selfish interests, and so Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must go forward with a controversial appearance before the US Congress next month.
“There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who insisted on the importance of keeping the details of talks with Iran private.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki conveyed a similar assessment: “I think it is safe to say not everything you are hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate reflection of the details of the talks.”
Israeli leaders say the deal America is negotiating would leave the Iranian nuclear program largely intact, trusting to the word of the mullahs to not develop a nuclear weapon. Of course, if the Islamic Republic clandestinely continued on that path and ultimately tested an atomic bomb, it would be at that point too late to do anything about it.
Due to the increased and vocal Israeli opposition to the impending deal, officials in Jerusalem last week said they had largely been shut out on the issue by the Obama Administration.
Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that Jerusalem was no longer receiving full and regular briefings from Washington regarding the Iran nuclear talks. One official told The New York Times that while certain briefings are still maintained, “they are empty.”
The White House staunchly denied the report, but European officials who spoke to the Times said there was some truth to the allegation.
“European officials say that the Israeli reports, while overblown, are not entirely based on fiction,” reported America’s leading newspaper. “One recalled a recent call from Wendy Sherman, the No. 3 State Department official and lead American negotiator with Iran, saying she had cautioned against telling the Israelis too much because the details could be twisted to undermine a deal.”
But senior Likud candidate Benny Begin, son of legendary former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, said Israel is not twisting anything, and that the agreement Obama is prepared to sign with Iran is a real threat to the Jewish state.
“We are not just talking about a bad agreement, we are talking about an agreement that poses an great danger to the security of Israel,” Begin told Army Radio, explaining that with “Iran’s leadership calling for the arming of the West Bank, in a military sense, Israel now shares a border with Iran.”
Begin argued that despite all the opposition, it was important for Netanyahu to go forward with a March 3 appearance before the US Congress. “Not every American congressman knows the facts or details of this thing from Israel’s perspective,” he noted. “And learning about that could change the minds of some.”