US President Joe Biden is expected to sign a revised nuclear agreement with Iran, which puts the new Israeli government in a strategic dilemma. It essentially has two options: stick to the policies of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ruled out any agreement with Iran, even including partial lifting of sanctions, or adopted “if you can’t beat them, join them” Methods. Cooperate with the Biden administration and try to fill the loopholes it found in the new transaction.
On June 27, Foreign Secretary Yair Lapid (Yair Lapid) hinted at the possible direction of the new administration in his first meeting with US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken. “We think the way to discuss these differences is through direct and professional dialogue, not a press conference,” Rapide said. This would be the exact opposite of Netanyahu’s radical campaign against the 2015 agreement, when he rejected the Obama administration’s proposal to participate in negotiations before the agreement was signed.
Certain terms of the agreement have a 10 to 15 year limit, which is not perfect. However, some senior Israeli defense officials insist that this is better than no agreement, because it forces Tehran to abandon its stockpiles of enriched uranium and accept an unprecedented system of inspections of its facilities.
Netanyahu supported Obama’s mobilization of Congress against the 2015 agreement, but failed. The transaction has been signed. Netanyahu used his subsequent close relationship with President Donald Trump and Republicans to play an important role in the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement in 2018. Apart from the anger and frustration of other signatories such as Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France, what has Israel gained from it?
President-elect Biden provided the answer to this question in December 2020. Just a few weeks before he entered the White House, he declared that his opposition to the agreement with Iran had produced the opposite result that his opponents hoped. “[Iran] Increased their ability to possess nuclear materials. They are approaching the ability to have enough materials to make nuclear weapons,” he said.
Biden’s criticism of Trump for letting the United States withdraw from the Iran agreement in January 2020 can also be interpreted as a criticism of Netanyahu. Biden said at a rally in Nevada that “everything that happened in Iran and Iraq in recent weeks was caused by Trump’s abandonment of internationally supported nuclear agreements in 2018.”
Netanyahu apparently does not recognize his great failure in a field known as “Mr. Security” for many years. In the opposition seat of the Knesset, he continued to instigate efforts to oppose the renewal of the nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran. He sneered at Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Rapide, who accused them of undermining Israel’s security interests by promising to warn the United States of any military action against Iran in advance.
“If nothing else, we would not be able to destroy the reactor in Iraq,” Netanyahu said, referring to the 1981 bombing of an unfinished nuclear reactor near Baghdad by Israel. He also stated that the United States had repeatedly asked him to make such a promise, but he refused.
Rapid said on the first day he took office that one of his first tasks was to restore relations between Israel and the Democratic Party. At a meeting in Rome on June 27th, he followed up with Blinken. “In the past few years, mistakes have been made,” Rapide told Brinken. “Israel’s bipartisan position has been hurt. Together we will correct these mistakes.”
The breakthrough in the US-Iran talks will force Bennett to make a decision whether to “go with the flow” or risk double trouble-with the United States and other world powers, as well as Rapid and the government’s domestic center-left partners. The Biden administration has made no secret of its efforts to establish relations with the new Israeli government.
The Israeli Prime Minister has always insisted that as far as Iran’s nuclear program is concerned, “all options are on the table”. In other words, Israel does not rule out the possibility of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. However, when the owner of the Oval Office is a rational leader seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, rather than a loose cannon, such a choice is not a real choice.
On the other hand, if the negotiation fails, not because of Israel’s opposition, and Iran succeeds in acquiring nuclear weapons these days, the Israeli air force attack squadron will go to nuclear facilities under the international umbrella of support.
Netanyahu’s double failure—the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program and the crisis in relations with the Democratic Party—should teach Bennett an important lesson. Israel cannot defeat the United States. Even if it wins, it eventually loses.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.