| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Israeli FM Under Pressure to Support an Int’l Deal with Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who will head the caretaker government this week, is under pressure from the army and the Mossad leadership regarding the official position on US efforts to reach a new international nuclear agreement with Iran, according to political sources in Tel Aviv.


The army wanted a change in position as most military leaders supported a return to the nuclear deal, while the Mossad urged him to maintain his current stance and be more stringent.


Right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper reported that most Israeli army leaders support a return to the agreement. It mentioned the names of the most prominent supporters: Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and senior officers from the Military Intelligence Directorate and Iran desk.


They believe returning to the nuclear deal with Iran will maintain a joint position with the US administration and provide Israel with time to prepare a real military option against Tehran’s nuclear project.


However, Mossad leaders feared that the army would be able to change Lapid’s opinion, altering Israel’s official stance. They believe the current policy should not be changed, saying that opposing the agreement and carrying out operations against the Iranian nuclear project is more effective.


It is known that the Israeli government, led by Naftali Bennett, had changed the official approach of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.


Bennett chose not to openly confront the Biden administration on the issue, unlike Netanyahu, who accused Washington of collaborating with Tehran.


Differences between Bennett’s government and the White House were kept secret and only announced within the framework of coordination with Washington, intending to pressure Iran.


The Israeli army joined the US Central Command (Centcom) last year, significantly changing the Israeli position on the matter. Tel Aviv realized the importance of rapprochement with Washington, which allowed it to join a regional alliance against Iran and its aggressive plans.


The Israeli army participated in dozens of military exercises with the US forces at various levels, exchanged expertise, and opened new horizons for direct and indirect support for Israeli military operations against Iran.


The army attempted to convince Bennett and Lapid to support the nuclear deal because it wanted to avoid any disagreements with the US, which was rejected by the Mossad leaders, who insisted on maintaining the hardline Israeli stance.


According to sources, Mossad is responsible for the military assassinations of several Iranian nuclear scientists and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials.


The Mossad officials met with Lapid before he became interim prime minister, asking him to uphold Israel’s position on the nuclear deal, especially with the resumption of negotiations.


The sources indicated that Lapid would formulate his government’s position before the visit of US President Joe Biden, scheduled for July 13.


Lapid will consult the leaders of the two security services, the army, and the Mossad.


According to Mossad leaders, changing the current official Israeli policy is unacceptable, and “Israel cannot be a partner in a bad agreement” for the short term.


Other sources noted that Mossad leaders do not hesitate to interfere in the cabinet’s internal political affairs. They want Bennett to be in charge of the Iranian file in Lapid’s government.


They stressed that Bennett would be the alternate prime minister, but he would assume practical and executive responsibility in the transitional government.


Bennett wants to be “the minister responsible for the Iranian issue,” and Mossad would like to see him assume that position because he supports it.


The sources believe Bennett may have demanded to retain responsibility for the Iranian issue because he feared the army’s pressure on Lapid.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat