The Iran Agreement Moves Where?
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
If one assumes that the press briefing that Prime Minister Netanyahu held in the evening in Israel concerning intelligence gathered by the Israelis about Iran’s nuclear program is accurate, what effect will it have on the Trump Administration’s intention whether to extend the life of the JCPOA? What is the result of this disclosure for President Trump’s inclination to break the agreement reached by the P5+1 with Iran? If U.S. military and intelligence agencies concur that the Israeli scoop is accurate, will the other signators of the agreement demand as well that the understanding with Iran be re-opened? Will the Trump Administration demand that absent re-opening it will immediately re-impose economic sanctions on Iran? If Iran stonewalls attempts to re-open discussions and/or the U.S. is unsatisfied with the terms upon which discussions re-commence, is the Trump Administration prepared to use force to eliminate the nuclear threat that Israel suggests to be present? These are only some of the questions which the Israeli intelligence disclosures add to White House discussions which must be resolved before May 12, by which time President Trump must certify or decertify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.
The release of this intelligence information by Netanyahu, comes in the midst of Israel receiving a total pass from the Trump Administration on all of its current policies. First, newly confirmed Secretary of State Pompeo in his brief visit this weekend in the region did not register any words of protest against Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in Gaza. Pompeo focus was exclusively on the Iranian threat in Syria and the White House’s options on the JCPOA agreement.
Second, as did President Trump during his visit to Israel, Pompeo did not meet with Mahmoud Abbas. He thus gave no visible impetus to pressure Israel to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. Finally, the President announced on Friday that he may well also attend the May 14 ceremony in Jerusalem officially recognizing the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem; an action will certainly only further infuriate the Palestinians.
Israel has never been in a position—even during the Administration of George W. Bush—that it was never subjected to virtually a single critical word from Washington. The timing of the release of this trove of intelligence concerning Iran’s nuclear program, give Bibi even more leeway to continue his current actions against the protesting Palestinians.
The irony of Washington’s position is that it follows released reports suggesting that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman told Jewish leaders during his recent visit in the U.S. that he advised the Palestinians to sit down with the Israelis. He said his Government recognized the need for there to be two states and that the Palestinians had already missed numerous opportunities to achieve such a resolution.
It might appear that the Saudis are seeking a two-state solution while the U.S. and Israel are not.