Defense Minister Benny Gantz flies to Washington DC on Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to prevent America’s revival of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran.
But it doesn’t look good.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just happens to have left the American capital prior to Gantz’s planned arrival, even though he undoubtedly knew Israel’s defense minister was coming to seek an urgent meeting with his American counterpart.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his planned meeting with Israel’s National Security Adviser, Eyal Hulata, who met Tuesday in Washington with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
The White House likewise earlier this week declined to take an emergency call from Prime Minister Yair Lapid on the Iranian issue, claiming President Joe Biden was “on vacation.”
Curiously, the president was present and available to make an announcement from the White House geared to improve the chances for his Democratic party in the November mid-terms.
All this from Israel’s “strongest ally,” with its “unbreakable bond.”
According to a report by the English-language edition of Israel Hayom, “since the beginning of the week, Jerusalem has not received any updates from Washington on the talks (with Iran), which has led to frustration in the diplomatic and security echelon.”
The evasions follow an announcement from Iran that it had received the US response to its latest proposals – modifications — on the so-called “final” European Union draft for the rejuvenation of the nuclear deal.
Gantz is scheduled to meet with head of the US Army’s Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees America’s Middle East operations, and with Sullivan.
The two officials may have been given the unenviable task of informing Israel the US intends to sign that deal with Iran, regardless of the existential threat it presents to the Jewish State – or perhaps they just weren’t nimble enough to “get outta Dodge” before the Israelis arrived.
In any event, Israeli concerns over its continued survival did not stop the White House from issuing a statement that said Sullivan “underscored President Biden’s steadfast commitment to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter its enemies and to defend itself by itself (bold added) against any threat or combination of threats, including from Iran and Iranian-backed proxies,” as well as the administration’s “commitment to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.”
The statement went on to say the two national security advisers discussed various other issues – and said “Sullivan also stressed the need to take continued steps to improve the lives of Palestinians, which are critical to peace, security and prosperity.”
Well of course, a mandate for “continued steps to improve the lives of Palestinians” is infinitely more important than stopping Iran from wiping Israel off the map. Right?
Not to the State of Israel, where the caretaker prime minister was joined this week by the head of the Opposition, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in emphasizing the threat to the region – as well as Israel – presented by Iran.
“They’re going to get hundreds of billions of dollars in short order, and that’s going to help them finance their various proxies,” Netanyahu said Wednesday in an interview with the Al Arabiya news network.
The deal, he said, “makes no sense…It’s against peace and security; it’s against our future. It’s a mess,” he said.
Lapid, who has refrained from criticizing the Biden Administration up to this point, told foreign correspondents at a briefing in Jerusalem the nuclear deal on the table is a “bad deal” that would give the Islamic Republic $100 billion a year.
“This money will not build schools or hospitals,” Lapid pointed out. “This is a hundred billion dollars a year that will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.
“This money will fund the Revolutionary Guards. It will fund the Basij who oppress the Iranian people. It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East.”
Lapid warned that a US decision to sign the deal will not matter when it comes to Israel’s survival.
“We have made it clear to everyone: if a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel. We will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” he said.
“We are not prepared to live with a nuclear threat above our heads from an extremist, violent Islamist regime.”