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Lapid to face competing pressures on Iran policy

One of the most important policies which Yair Lapid will be required to formulate for himself when he becomes Prime Minister this week is policy on Iran.

Israel Hayom reported Sunday morning that Lapid would be subject to pressure to reverse the policy of the Netanyahu and Bennett governments of opposing the Biden Administration’s intention to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

  • Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly clashed with the Obama Administration over the agreement.
  • Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett changed course and largely opposed the deal in private rather than in public.

Both agreed that the agreement was a bad deal that did unduly rewarded Iran with sanctions relief which was used to spread terrorism across the Middle East, did not appropriately ensure Iran’s compliance, allowed Iran to maintain much of its nuclear infrastructure, and worst of all contained sunset clauses under which the restrictions on its nuclear program would end in the coming years, allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons without violating the deal.

Lapid will be required as interim prime minister to formulate his policy immediately, even before Biden visits the region next month.

  • He will hear that a number of senior IDF officials – led by the chief of staff and senior officials of the Security Service and Iran’s wing – support a return to the agreement, which they believe gives Israel more time to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

On the other hand, other political and security officials and institutions, such as the Mossad, oppose a return to the 2015 deal. In their opinion, Israel cannot be partner to a bad agreement, whose expiration is close and which does not address the problems that were in the original agreement.

Bennett has demanded that he remain in charge of the Iranian issue even after he resigns as Prime Minister this week. Yisrael Hayom reported that Bennett may have made this demand because he feared that the IDF’s arguments, which are not subject to public scrutiny, would push Lapid to change policy to be in favor of the Biden Administration’s diplomatic approach to Iran.

Lapid’s decision will have strategic but also political implications. Although the public for the most part is not familiar with the details of the agreement, it instinctively opposes it. Changing the policy now, on the eve of an election campaign which promises to be heated, may present him as aligning himself with a problematic American policy on an issue that is existential for Israel.

Source: Arutz Sheva