Israel in a hole of its own making

TEHRAN, Aug. 21 (MNA) – There is a Persian proverb that says, “Why on earth a wise man does a thing that would lead to contrition.” This seems to be perfectly applicable to Israel these days with respect to its onetime fierce opposition to the JCPOA.

In 2018, while the whole world was warning of the consequences of scuppering the nuclear deal, formally called the JCPOA, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to buck the trend and nudge then-US President Donald Trump into quitting the JCPOA. That decision has now backfired on Israel, according to Israeli media. 

The official Israeli television channel, Kan, reported that Israeli security leaders have privately expressed their regret over the pressure exerted by Tel Aviv over Trump to abandon the JCPOA in 2018, according to Al Araby Al Jadeed. 

That contrition, the report said, sprang from a belief that both Iran and the great powers are returning to the same agreement at a time when Iran has achieved great progress in its nuclear program, especially in the field of uranium enrichment, which could have been averted were it not for the Trump withdrawal from the nuclear pact. 

Internal opposition to Israel’s anti-JCPOA policies is nothing new. Israeli intelligence and security officials have long called for a return to the JCPOA.  In February of 2021, a group of former security and intelligence officials sent a letter to Netanyahu expressing support for a US return to the JCPOA. 

The letter said it “welcomes the American initiative to get Iran to again transparently follow the guidelines in the JCPOA, as long as it includes an Iranian commitment to abide by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”

Later that year, other former officials renewed their support for a revival of the JCPOA. And in early 2022, even incumbent intelligence officials started discovering the benefits of a deal with Iran. The head of the Israeli military intelligence told ministers during a Security Cabinet meeting in January 2022 that Israel will be better off if the Iran nuclear talks lead to a deal rather than collapsing without one. 

But all these opposition voices had one thing in common: they were from a camp of officials who were skeptical about Trump’s jettisoning of the JCPOA. 

That is what makes them different from the current voices who seem to have first supported Trump’s withdrawal and then came to believe that that decision was a mistake.

Israel rushed to dismantle the JCPOA believing that Iran was unable to respond in a way that would make the Iran hawks regret their opposition to the JCPOA. In 2019, Iran proceeded in a measured way and gradually reduced its nuclear commitments all while leaving the door open for the West to make up for its mistake.

Since April 2021, Iran and its negotiating partners have started negotiations in Vienna to restore the JCPOA. Whether these negotiations would lead to an agreement remain to be seen. But Israel seems to be already concerned about whatever comes out of Vienna. And that is the result of not being wise.

First published in Tehran Times 

News Code 190471

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