Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz are reportedly at odds over Israel’s strategy for handling Joe Biden’s plans to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
According to Israel’s Walla News, Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat sent a memo to Gantz and other officials that made it clear Netanyahu was looking to box Gantz out of talks with the next US administration.
“The following is a directive from the prime minister: The Israeli government’s position on the nuclear agreement with Iran will be formulated by the prime minister alone on the basis of consultations with the National Security Council staff in the Prime Minister’s Office,” the memo stated.
Netanyahu was apparently upset about comments from Dror Shalom, the outgoing head of the Israeli Defense Forces’ intelligence research division. In an interview in October, Shalom said President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA and the “maximum pressure” campaign that followed might not have improved Israel’s strategic position.
Gantz was reportedly shocked by the memo and wrote back to Netanyahu. “The issue of security, especially with regards to the Iranian issue, is not a one-man affair,” Gantz said.
The disagreement comes as the next Israeli elections are approaching. After three back-to-back elections failed to give either Netanyahu’s Likud Party or Gantz’s Blue and White Party a majority in the Knesset, the two parties agreed to a power-sharing deal.
Under the coalition deal Netanyahu was to hold the position of prime minister until November 2021, when Gantz would take over. But the coalition fell apart, and Israelis will head to the polls again in March.