Since President Biden was sworn into office, his administration has assumed that eventually, Iran would agree to a weakened nuclear deal similar to the one made with the Obama administration back in 2015.
Almost two years later, it’s safe to assume that even U.S. diplomats focused on the ongoing talks with Tehran are not positive about how negotiations will end. Someone on the outside looking in can’t help but believe the Iranians find great pleasure in frustrating the U.S. enough to ensure that any terms of a deal will heavily favor Iran.
Those watching throughout the Middle East and around the rest of the world are quick to agree on one conclusion. If any deal is reached, there will be a new and potentially divisive mix to the relationship between the United States and Israel. This could be a potential setback for the Jewish state, especially with Israelis preparing for their fifth election in three years.
Whether current Prime Minister Yair Lapid or former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wins the upcoming Knesset election, if the Biden administration reaches an agreement with Iran, any past assumptions about a U.S.-Israeli alliance could be quickly pushed to the side or thrown out altogether.
Both the United States and Israel will have negative repercussions if this happens. Not only would the U.S. deal with Iran more than likely ultimately lead to a nuclear Iran threatening the security of both countries but several alliances throughout the Arab world would also be threatened. Moreover, much of the peace and cooperation throughout the region created by the Abraham Accords could instantly be undone.
A rise in optimism in Washington D.C. in recent weeks had created panic throughout Arab capitals and Jerusalem that Iran would finally drop some of its demands and accept yes for an answer. The result would be an ease of Western sanctions, benefiting Tehran. But instead, the Arab world was able to briefly exhale as Iran responded with a new set of demands seen as “unreasonable” by the United States.
Officials in Iran are still quick to claim that time is on their side. The Biden administration is expected to continue negotiating, pushing for a new deal regardless of the cost. On top of that, additional frustration has been created by Europeans pleading for Iranian oil. The price of oil in Europe has skyrocketed with shortages due to sanctions on Russia. Israel and several other Arab nations are left with a suffocating feeling that eventually, the U.S. will cave, and a new deal will be made with Iran.
If there wasn’t already enough potential tension building between Israeli and U.S. officials, members of Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s administration added to the frustration. They recently claimed that pressure put on the United States from Israel is what derailed the last round of Iranian deal negotiations.
Within the previous two weeks, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Lapid himself, have been insinuating that U.S. and European officials were “forced” by Israel to take a harder stand against Iran, leading to a quick end to discussions of a new deal.
However, in a statement to the Times of Israel, a senior State Department official from the Biden administration says that Lapid and the Israeli officials couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We have been and are continuing to seek a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action because President Biden is convinced that this is the best way to deliver on his commitment not to allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon,” the State Department official said.
“We have a very close dialogue with Israel and other allies and partners about Iran, including the JCPOA. Special Envoy Malley is an integral part of those talks,” the U.S. official continued. “It is not correct that our position has ‘toughened.’ The President has always been very clear about what we need in order to reach an understanding and return to full implementation.”
“There is only one reason that we have not yet reached an understanding: Tehran has not yet accepted the reasonable basis presented by the EU as coordinator of JCPOA talks,” the statement concluded.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters have quickly labeled the recent comments from the Lapid administration as lies trying to win votes. Netanyahu says that the current Israeli administration has been weak against terrorism, especially Iran and its proxies. Claiming that they “forced” the United States to be tougher on negotiations makes Lapid appear as if he is protecting Israel.
Jeffrey Stevens is a Senior Writer with ThinkCivics News and a freelance journalist with The Jerusalem Post, focusing on the Vatican’s involvement in world politics. In addition, he is a published author and the founder of Gospel Grammar. Jeffrey is currently pursuing a second degree in theology from Aidan University in Jacksonville, Florida.