It’s too soon to be certain if a bad Iran nuclear deal has been prevented, but one thing is clear: Israel will defend itself against Iran if necessary. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid delivered that message on Tuesday with another clear message: He said it while standing in front of an Israeli F-35 fighter jet and posted the visual to Twitter.
“If Iran continues to test us, it will discover Israel’s long arm and capabilities. We will continue to act on all fronts against terrorism and against those who seek to harm us,” said Lapid in comments published by his office. “As [United States] President [Joe] Biden and I agreed, Israel has full freedom to act as we see fit to prevent the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear threat.”
While Lapid was issuing the military threat, he also provided an update on Israel’s diplomatic fight against what Israel has described as a “dangerous” Iran nuclear deal. “It is still too early to know if we have indeed succeeded in stopping the nuclear agreement, but Israel is prepared for every threat and every scenario,” said Lapid.
The potential for a renewed Iran nuclear deal has changed dramatically in recent days, after prior media reports indicated an agreement could be imminent. On Monday, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell—who has been acting as a mediator between the US and Iran—told reporters the entire negotiation is “in danger.”
Said Borrell, “I am sorry to say that I am less confident today than 28 hours ago about the convergence of the negotiation process and about the prospect of closing the deal right now.”
In the comments to reporters, republished by the EU External Action website, Borrell said he originally received “reasonable” responses to his prior proposal that was intended as a best attempt to harmonize the conflicting parties. Borrell said the sides were “converging to a closer position.”
“But the last interaction is not converging, it is diverging…That is very much worrisome—if the process does not converge, the whole process is in danger,” said Borrell on Monday,
“So, I have to say that the last answers I got, if the purpose is to close the deal quickly—it is not going to help it.”
The shift in tone may be unhelpful to Borrell, but it may be exactly what Israel had hoped would happen. The Israelis have had multiple high-ranking officials discuss the Iran deal with American officials in recent days, including Lapid himself talking with President Biden.
Lapid on Sunday, in comments published by his office, said the goal of the diplomatic push was to “prevent the signing of a dangerous nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers.” Even Lapid’s visit to the air base on Tuesday was labelled by the Israeli press release as being “in tandem with Mossad Director David Barnea’s visit to the US, as part of the diplomatic campaign against Iran.”
As Lapid noted on Tuesday, it remains to be seen if that effort was successful.
Meanwhile, Israel has engaged in more than just diplomacy in the cold war with Iran. In addition to Lapid’s fighter-jet-staged threat—which included video posted to Twitter of fighter jets taking off—the Israelis announced on Monday a missile defense training exercise with the US that was held in July.
In Monday’s press release promoting the exercise, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was quoted as saying, “Combining forces, sharing knowledge, and strengthening the air defense of the Middle East is a message to our enemies and to our partners—we are strong together, and we are ready to stand together against any challenge—from the air, land, sea, and the cyber arena.”
That missile defense exercise took place months ago, and the announcement’s timing—this week, just as the US needs more negotiating clout with Iran—looks clearly intentional.
Not unlike the leader of Israel warning Iran while standing in front of a fighter jet.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 6, 2022)