Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.
Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.
- Netanyahu's stance was criticized at the time by many in the Israeli defense establishment as being counterproductive.
Driving the news: Senior Israeli national security officials will descend on Washington next week for talks on Iran. They include national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Aviv Kochavi, military intelligence chief Tamir Hayman and Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
- Netanyahu convened a meeting on Thursday with those officials, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the policies that will be presented in Washington.
- The decision at the end of the meeting was to stress that a return to the deal would put Israel in danger, and to otherwise decline to discuss the talks in Vienna, an Israeli official said.
- During the meeting on Thursday, Netanyahu stressed that Israel is not a party to the nuclear deal and is therefore not bound by it in any way.
- Netanyahu said Israel will act only according to its national security interests, but will maintain its freedom of operation against Iran in the region.
What’s next: Netanyahu, Gantz and Ashkenazi decided that Israel would be willing to discuss the parameters of a “longer and stronger” nuclear deal in the future, if the U.S. and other world powers decide to go in that direction, per Israeli officials.