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Silent reaction in Israel and the Gulf to US Press on Iran talks




Jerusalem When the United States last tried to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, the reaction from the Israeli government was sharp and harsh. In the years leading up to the Iran 2015 deal with Washington and several other major powers, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly called their negotiations a historic mistake, even delivering a speech to Congress in 2015 declaring the Obama administrations open. for a deal.

But on Friday, the official announcement that the Biden Administration was seeking a return to nuclear negotiations with Iran, following the fall of the 2015 agreement under President Donald Trump, met initially with a tacit response not only in Jerusalem but also in the Gulf States. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which also oppose an overly generous rapprochement with Iran.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Netanyahu’s office issued a brief statement, avoiding direct comments on the negotiations but noting that Israel was in contact with the United States.

Israel remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and its position on the nuclear deal has not changed, the statement said. Israel believes a return to the old agreement will pave the way for Iran to build a nuclear arsenal.

Western diplomats and former Israeli officials said the Israelis were still wasting the news and working on how to respond, but that they acknowledged the need to engage constructively with Washington instead of ceasing negotiations out of hand.

The question is, said Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Minister for Community Affairs, in an interview with The New York Times on Friday, what is the new administration’s policy in the face of the outcome of the negotiations?

The Israeli government was not fundamentally opposed to the negotiations, Mr Hanegbi said. But the talks were to result in a better deal than the one agreed in 2015, which Israel and the Gulf states condemned because its restrictions on Iranian nuclear activities would expire within a decade and a half, and that did little to curb Iranian military activity across the Middle East.

We would like the negotiations to highlight what the world would like to see: an agreement for a longer period of time for at least 50 years, if not more, Mr Hanegbi said. Israel cannot accept an agreement that will expire in four to five years, he added. It has to be an agreement that will be valid for generations. Anything else will not achieve the goal of preventing a nuclear Iran.

Saudi and Emirati officials were silent on Friday. Seeing the Biden administrations regarding Tehran resign, the two Gulf states who were outraged to be excluded from the last round of negotiations can only hope that the United States will keep its promises to ensure that Gulf interests to be represented in talks, analysts said.

We just have to trust the new administration; we have no chance, said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist. They are really determined to lead Iran, so there is no way anyone can stop them.

But he acknowledged that there might be something to be gained, saying, If the end result is less confrontation with Iran, a less aggressive Iran, a less expansionist Iran, a dream of his kind.

The Israeli government has not yet announced a clear response to the change in US policy, said Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military intelligence chief. But at least initially, he said, it will take a much less militant approach to Biden administrations’ policy-making than it did with President Barack Obama.

“I think they will be very careful,” Mr Yadlin told the Israeli government. The Americans have not yet returned to the agreement and they will try to establish a dialogue that will help the Americans to reach a longer and stronger agreement.

He added: Practically, they will not face the Biden administration directly. They will wait a while to see if the Iranians are reacting and how the negotiations are going.

In Europe, where leaders had long hoped America would return to the table with Iran, there was a more positive response. US is giving diplomacy a chance, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. wrote on Twitter. We expressly welcome and support this!

Mr Maas also warned Iran against taking aggressive measures at a time when diplomatic progress seemed possible. Now Iranian leaders must also show they are serious, he said.

In Russia an ally of Iran and a signatory to the nuclear deal the move by the Biden administrations meant that the Kremlin, for once, had something positive to say in the direction of Washington. In particular, she assessed that the White House had also withdrawn from a Trump-era attempt to reinstate United Nations sanctions on Iran.

Stopping the call for sanctions is a good thing in itself, said Dmitry S. Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin. This is an event that one can mark with a plus sign.

In the Gulf region, which sees Iranian expansionism as a major threat, the mood was quieter, with currents under pessimism.

Ali Shihabi, a Saudi political commentator seen as close to the government, said Saudi Arabia had signaled to the Biden administration for months that it supported re-engagement with Iran, but only if the goal was a broader deal than the 2015 deal. formally known as the Joint General Action Plan.

Now the question will be, is this rhetoric simple and will Biden’s people effectively produce an identical JCPOA recreation, with all its flaws? Mr. Shihabi said. Or will it lead to a better deal and some additional restrictions on Iran’s regional behavior? Biden people are making all the right noises, but the evidence is in the pudding.

Saudi Arabia has taken care to emphasize the positive in its relations with the Biden administration so far, wanting to show that it remains a constructive partner when it comes to Iran or other regional issues, said Eman Alhussein, a Saudi analyst in the Gulf States. Arab Institute in Washington.

They want to be seen as part of solving these problems, said Ms. Alhussein, adding that Saudi Arabia may be eager to do so because of the atmosphere of fear for the kingdoms’ insecure relations with the United States.

Biden officials have said they want to rebalance the partnership into what would be an inevitable cold comeback after four years of strong support from the Trump administration.

Patrick Kingsley reported from Jerusalem and Vivian Yee from Cairo. The report was contributed by Irit Pazner Garshowitz in Jerusalem, Steven Erlanger in Brussels, Roger Cohen in Paris, Melissa Eddy in Berlin and Anton Troianovski in Moscow.

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