The US and Israel convened the first meeting of a new strategic group to coordinate on Iran on Thursday. The forum, known as the US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group, is headed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben Shabbat.
“During the discussion, the two sides shared perspectives on regional security issues of mutual interest and concern, including Iran, and expressed their common determination to confront the challenges and threats facing the region,” National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.
The US and Israel established a similar working group during the Obama administration, although the talks were more secretive, and the group was disbanded over disagreements on the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly hoping to avoid a confrontational relationship with President Biden, which is why Israel’s opposition to the JCPOA will be mostly expressed through this working group. But Netanyahu has made his opposition to Biden reviving the deal known.
In an interview on Wednesday, President Biden’s envoy for Iran said the US is hoping to avoid a repeat of the contentious relationship with Israel when the JCPOA was negotiated. “We don’t always agree, but the talks are extremely open and positive. While we may have different interpretations and views as to what happened in 2015–2016, neither of us wishes to repeat it,” Robert Malley said.
So far, Iran remains under crippling economic sanctions, and the Biden administration has not made a sincere effort to revive the JCPOA. Besides the pressure from Israel, President Biden is also under intense domestic pressure not to return to the original agreement.