Gantz breaks away from long-standing Israeli stance and is willing to ‘accept’ JCPOA revival

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz said he was prepared to accept a scenario in which the United States succeeds in reviving the nuclear deal with Iran, in a rare comment from a senior government official who does not directly reject the multilateral agreement.

“The current US approach to putting back the nuclear program in Iran, I would accept that,” Gantz said. told Foreign policy in an interview published on Tuesday and used rhetoric used by the Biden administration to describe the goal of the joint overall action plan.

Although non-governmental security officials have previously indicated some tolerance for the JCPOA, that sentiment has not extended to public officials, and Gantz appeared to be the highest-ranking cabinet member to reflect that in the minutes.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assured US President Joe Biden in the White House last month that he will not publicly fight Washington’s efforts to lure Iran back to the 2015 agreement mediated by former President Barack Obama and abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump 2018, Israeli officials. sa. This was a departure from Bennett’s predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, who campaigned aggressively against the JCPOA and even accepted an invitation to attend a joint congressional meeting in which he unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers against the deal.

However, Bennett also made it clear that he opposes the nuclear deal and has not publicly stated that its resurrection is something that Israel can live with, as Gantz did in Tuesday’s interview.

However, the Defense Minister was also clear that he wanted to see “viable US-led Plan B” which contains significant political, diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran imposed jointly by the US, Europe, Russia and China on talks in Vienna seeking a US-Iran return to JCPOA fails to bear fruit.

TV cameras in front of the “Grand Hotel Vienna” where closed nuclear power talks take place in Vienna, Austria, June 20, 2021. (Florian Schroetter / AP)

“We must connect China here too, Asia must play a role,” Gantz told FP, noting Iran’s growing economic ties with the Far East. “Israel has no ability to lead a real Plan B, we can not put together an international economic sanctions regime. This must be led by the United States. ”

“Iran must fear that the United States and its partners are serious,” he added.

Gantz also indicated to foreign policy that Israel had its own “Plan C” which would involve military action.

“If push is going to shoot, we’ll get there,” Gantz said, before switching from Hebrew to English to add, “we are not America, but we have our ability.”

He went on to warn that if the world powers do not succeed in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, it will lead to a nuclear arms race. “Other states will not just sit still … They will buy it straight from the shelf from Pakistan or whoever they can.”

Commenting on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the rapid Taliban takeover, Gantz Biden defended the administration, saying the policy had been “completely understandable … otherwise you could be there forever”, while adding that “it there are no lucky withdrawals. ”

He said, however, that Iran must not be allowed on the basis of the Afghanistan scenario that “all you need to do is be strong and determined and the West will settle down.”

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as they meet at the Oval Office in the White House on Friday, August 27, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

Also on the Palestinian issue, Gantz offered some of his most detailed comments to date.

While expressing his support for “needs[ing] two political entities here ”, he was not quoted as using the term“ state ”to describe the future Palestinian entity he envisions.

In addition, he said that Israel would not separate any of its settlements in the West Bank and leave much less territory than the Palestinians envision for their state and than most analysts believe will produce viable borders.

“[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas still dreams of the 1967 lines … This will not happen, says Gantz. “He must realize that we are staying there … We are not taking down settlements,” Gantz told FP.

It was the first time Gantz expressed his opposition to the evacuation of settlements, not even distinguishing between Israeli cities closer to the green lines from those deep in the West Bank as he has done in the past. The refusal to evacuate settlements has been a new policy for Netanyahu but had not yet reached the middle of the political map where Gantz has tried to establish himself.

View of the Givat Asaf outpost, near the Beit El settlement on the West Bank on 15 May 2014. (Miriam Alster / Flash 90)

Still, he insisted that maintaining ties with Abbas and PA is “a value of the utmost importance.”

The two met in Ramallah last month, after which Gantz announced a series of small gestures aimed at improving Palestinian security. His office claims that it is in Israel’s interest to strengthen the PA in order to present a moderate alternative to the Hamas terrorist group that controls Gaza.

But Bennett is still at the top of the government and has made it clear that he will not even meet with Abbas, let alone enter into political negotiations with him.

“Overall, the government works well – we make room for each other [to work]… but I am a leader in security issues, says Gantz.

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