Veteran Israeli analyst, Nahum Barnea, has penned a piece entitled “On the edge of the abyss” which details how Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is desperate to do whatever must be done in order to kill passage of the Iran deal in Washington.
According to Barnea, this includes threatening the Obama administration, or more accurately, those members of Congress still weighing their decision on the Iran deal. The threat? That a passed nuclear agreement will result in one thing: a last-resort war launched by Israel to save itself. Here is Barnea:
Israel is willing to invest quite a lot in putting the military option back on the table. Defense Minister Ya’alon threatened last week in the media that Israel will resume targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. It was strange, because in the past, Israel didn’t make its threats in the media – according to foreign reports, it conducted its assassinations in secret. Ya’alon’s comments were not for Tehran’s ears, however, but for Washington. There were other moves, more concrete ones. It’s important to Israel to create the impression in Washington that approving the agreement would lead to war.
On the matter of Iranian nuclear scientists, Barnea is referring to an interview last week Defense Minister Ya’alon granted Der Spiegel. In that interview, Ya’alon hinted that Israel was responsible for a series of targeted attacks which killed five Iranian nuclear scientists, and boldly implied such targeted assassinations may be resumed along with the bombing of Iranian facilities if the deal passes.
According to a CBS news report in 2014, the Obama administration pressured Netanyahu last year to order a cessation of such targeted killings by Mossad. Now, with the nuclear agreement being weighed by Congress, the Netanyahu-led government is making not-so-veiled threats to Washington that it will act if the deal passes.
Of course, the deal is almost certain to pass via an Obama veto override. And even in the unlikely event that it does not, it is already an established fact formulated by five other nations―China, Russia, Germany, France and the U.K.―which will not resume sanctions if full American participation is not realized.
Which is why, as Barnea notes, all of this posturing is purely for Netanyahu’s political gain at home. Which is not to say, though, that the threats his administration is making should not be taken seriously.
It’s perhaps for this reason the IDF this week, in an unusual move, published its “Strategic Outlook,” which did not mention Iran’s nuclear capabilities as a threat to Israeli security. In doing so, Israel’s military establishment joined hundreds of security experts in breaking publicly from Netanyahu.
The audience for this public break may not only have been the Israeli public, but Washington as well. A desperate attempt to thwart not passage of the Iranian deal, but the obsession of Israel’s leader.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.