Israeli Government Divided Over How to Influence Biden on Iran
From left, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)
By Luca Cacciatore | Wednesday, 08 December 2021 06:27 PM
There is a debate within the Israeli government about the best way to influence the U.S. position on Iran amid a stalemate in nuclear talks, according to Axios.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are growing concerned about Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's increasingly aggressive approach on the talks, Israeli officials said.
Bennett will visit Washington on Thursday to continue the discussion of Iran. In August, the prime minister promised President Joe Biden that he wouldn't engage in a public campaign against a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Many believe, however, that Bennett is doing precisely that. In response, Gantz is lobbying for a quieter approach of private engagement with the Biden administration.
In his lobbying, the defense minister is expected to stress that the White House must convince the Iranians that they face a credible U.S. military threat. Gantz is also expected to raise the delay in congressional approval for $1 billion in aid toward Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
According to Israeli officials, David Barnea, director of the Mossad intelligence agency, is also in Washington this week for talks with CIA Director William Burns and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Israel and Iran have engaged in a hot conflict for years, but the targets have always been government-related. Developments in late November revealed by The New York Times indicated the conflict had escalated to cyberattacks against civilian targets.
A cyberattack on Iran's nationwide fuel distribution system on Oct. 26, allegedly by Israel, paralyzed the country's 4,300 gas stations, and it took 12 days to fully restore service, two anonymous U.S. defense officials told the Times.
The alleged Israeli attack was followed days later by retaliation from Iran against a central medical center and an LGBTQ+ dating site, exposing individual profiles, Israeli officials said, per the Times.